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Weathering the story: building business resilience to climate change

This report provides an in-depth look at the ways in which multinational companies are beginning to assess and address the risks of extreme weather and other climate change impacts. The companies examined play strategic roles in the global economy in a wide range of sectors, including: banking and financial services, consumer goods, healthcare, information communications, manufacturing and materials. The report includes a comprehensive review of the perspectives and activities of companies listed in the Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Global 100 Index, based on their reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project and in their corporate sustainability reports and annual financial filings; and in-depth case studies of the practices and experiences of six companies in diverse sectors: American Water, Bayer, The Hartford Group, National Grid, Rio Tinto and Weyerhaeuser. It also lays out a four-step framework for managing climate risks that incorporates the emerging best practices from case study companies already working to prepare for the very likely prospect of increasing extreme weather and climate change impacts.

This research reveals that, while the vast majority of companies recognise risks from extreme weather and climate change, and many see these risks in the present or near term, uncertainty about the precise nature, timing and severity of climate impacts often inhibits investment in resilience beyond “business as usual”. A few leading companies are taking steps to address climate risks where they see a clear business case to do so. By and large, however, the business response thus far is largely a continuation of existing practices based on a historical picture of past risks, and often fails to adequately consider changing climate and weather conditions. Thus, the most common strategy for addressing climate-related risks leaves most companies without the resilience they need to weather future physical impacts of climate change.