The danger of neglecting meteorology for action on climate change


Time is running out for action on climate change. In a recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of the importance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C to avoid extreme climate disruptions that could exacerbate global conflicts and drought, among other problems. Since the establishment of the Paris Agreement, world leaders and countries have developed – and revised – roadmaps on climate change to strengthen international responses and broaden participation with the support of the United Nations Framework Convention United on Climate Change. But there is a big gap between now and 2050. The critical elements of mitigating this change can start today and be driven by finance, technology, politics, behavioral medicines and science. The theme for Earth Day this year is “Investing in Our Planet” which calls on everyone – from individuals to businesses and governments – to take action to reduce the impact on our environment. Because even though we focus on the future, every organization and individual is dealing with the effects of climate change today.

Financial disclosure

Many countries make climate risk disclosure mandatory for large publicly listed companies and large private companies due to the risk to financial stability and the economy. Climate risk disclosure encompasses two broad types of risk, physical and transitional. Transition risks relate to greenhouse gas emissions, such as a company’s direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, the total amount of fossil fuel-related assets, and the impact on the valuation of climate change policy and legislation. Transition risks have traditionally been where companies have focused their reporting efforts.

Conversely, physical risks, which include extreme weather events, sea level rise and changes in weather patterns, have been more difficult for companies to report. These risks are important to consider because data from S&P Global shows that extreme weather events linked to rising average global temperatures pose the greatest physical risks to S&P 500 companies and the World Economic Forum has ranked the conditions extreme weather as the second highest global risk for the next ten years.

Using weather analysis for financial disclosure benefits organizations in two ways. The first is to identify current and future risks to a company’s assets, operations and personnel safety before an event. Several studies link the under-reporting of physical risks in climate risk disclosures due to unknown hazards. The second is to use weather analysis to prepare for and mitigate weather impacts. For example, if a utility company has infrastructure in high-risk areas, knowing the potential impact could help reduce power outages and activate restoration responses more quickly. This is not only an operational problem, but also a financial risk. Several states have regulations and penalties related to the duration of outages that can affect utility profits and liability.

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

There are also steps we can take today using weather analysis to reduce environmental impact. For example, in shipping, weather-optimized routing can reduce emissions and fuel consumption by up to 5%, depending on vessel type, season and conditions. Some companies use “just in time” arrival algorithms to reduce the time spent in port. When ports are full, ships idle offshore with their engines – and their emissions – still running. A recent study of four major seaports found that during the “pandemic period”, ship emissions increased by an average of 79% in these four ports. By incorporating weather analytics into just-in-time arrival calculations, a captain can navigate using a weather-optimized route, and when integrated with Port Authority information, the captain can adapt as needed. , such as slow navigation, which has been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or provide one or more alternatives for the navigator to optimize a route.

Weather analysis can also reduce carbon emissions when treating winter roads. Road pavement forecasting, which uses a combination of high-resolution forecasting, road sensors and environmental assessment of temperature influences on road sections, can reduce unnecessary processing. Although not carbon emissions, predicting road pavement also helps the environment by eliminating unnecessary chemical treatments that contaminate drinking water and harm the environment.

Support municipal response and recovery

Climate change poses a public health and environmental risk to many municipalities across the country. Municipalities increasingly see the need to integrate weather analysis into their daily operations. Not only to plan maintenance work and operational safety, but also to better protect and prepare its citizens for extreme weather events. A recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that the summer of 2021 was the hottest summer on record in the contiguous United States. loss of life, especially during the Pacific Northwest heatwave. Many cities hire heating officers to design cooling strategies and plan response strategies to rising temperatures. At the same time, municipalities like New York are grappling with intense rains that are flooding city infrastructure and threatening lives. As the city invests $14 billion to ensure a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030, it is also committed to protecting its residents from the risks associated with climate change.

The search for additional weather support came from NYC Emergency Management’s commitment to carrying out the initiatives outlined in the New York City report “The New Normal: Combating Storm-Related Extreme Weather in New York City “. Weather analysis, and more effectively combined with risk communicators, supports agency decision-making to inform citizens and tailor our emergency services accordingly.

These are just a few of the many ways weather analysis can help bridge the gap between today’s environmental impact and the tools and actions we need to take to prepare for our future climate.


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