Sunday, November 28, 2010

Large companies chasing $135 billion global warming market

Jim Efstathiou Jr. and Kim Chipman in Bloomberg: Seed maker DuPont Co., wind-turbine manufacturer General Electric Co. and insurer Zurich Financial Services AG are devising products to help the world adapt to climate change, a potential $135 billion-a-year market by 2030.

…Damages from climate-related disasters are mounting. Insured losses from storms and floods have risen more than fivefold to $27 billion annually in the past four decades, Swiss Reinsurance Co. said in a September report. By 2030, the world may need to spend $135 billion a year on flood protection, buildings that can withstand hurricanes and drought-resistant crops, Swiss Re said, citing United Nations data.

“Climate change presents a direct threat to our business,” Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact for Seattle-based Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee chain, said in an interview. “We are already hearing some anecdotal evidence that shifting weather patterns and increased erosion and pest infestation are starting to impact coffee crops.” Adaptation strategies, such as rewarding farmers for taking extra steps to prevent erosion on vulnerable land, will help Starbucks prepare, Hanna said.

Relatively rich nations such as the U.S. are devoting more attention and resources to adaptation and are negotiating a fund to help poorer countries cope with the higher sea levels, droughts, heat waves, more severe storms and erratic weather predicted by climate scientists.

“Sooner or later all businesses will have to climate-proof their operations,” Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, said in a September speech in New York. “Adaptation will be imperative if businesses want to avoid climate-change impacts that could drive them out of business.”….

Gustave Doré, an 1865 engraving of a climbing disaster on the Matterhorn, scanned from A Brief History of British Mountaineering by Colin Wells, ISBN 978-0903908627

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