Monday, May 11, 2009

Current climate changes a spur for some to adapt

Financial Times: …Some climate change is inevitable, regardless of how much emissions are cut in future, because of the gases that have already been pumped into the atmosphere. Climate scientists meeting in Copenhagen in March heard that it will be almost impossible to meet targets to limit temperature rises to 2ºC because emissions have continued to surge.

… [T]here are certain common themes when it comes to adaptation. “Scarcity of water will be one of the main challenges,” Ms Hedegaard says. Many regions also face more severe flooding while changes to rainfall patterns mean that even if the overall amount of rainfall does not change, the amount of usable water – for water supplies, agriculture and to cool power stations – will reduce. Finally, sea level rises put at risk the lives and livelihoods of billions of people around the world who live near coasts.

As well as dredging companies and builders of sea defences such as Boskalis of the Netherlands, companies dealing with storm water management such as Hydro International and those that provide water treatment services will see their markets grow, says Bruce Jenkyn-Jones, chief investment officer of Impax, a fund manager investing in a cleaner economy.

The increase in severe weather events puts the insurance sector firmly in the front line of dealing with climate change. Losses from natural catastrophes were $200bn (£133bn, €150bn) in 2008, according to Munich Re. Property and casualty insurance are the most affected by this and companies are reacting by limiting cover or increasing premiums in flood-affected areas. The state government is now the biggest residential insurer in Florida, for example, because insurers have withdrawn cover from hurricane-prone areas.

… Energy companies will also have to take climate effects into account during the massive programme of capacity expansion that is under way around the globe. The unforeseen impacts on electricity generators was illustrated during the 2003 heat wave in Europe, when France had to shut down nuclear power stations because of a lack of water to cool the reactors. The shortage of water hit its hydro-electric plants as well.

Businesses able to improve the resilience of the grid will benefit from increased uncertainty over supplies, as well as suppliers of uninterruptible power supplies and energy storage, says Mr Jenkyn-Jones…..

Wave forming at an Acapulco beach, shot by Arturo Mann, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 and Attribution ShareAlike 1.0 License.

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