Our 2019 Highlights – Part 2

Our 2019 Highlights – Part 2

Lydia Messling

For me, my highlight was starting at Acclimatise and working with such a diverse range of people and projects. From curating infographics, and writing and editing reports, to providing feedback on national climate communication strategies – there’s been a lot on! Getting to grips with climate change and communicating it and its impacts well is only becoming more important. There’s always a tension between mourning and hoping in doing climate change work, and I’m fortunate that the projects I’ve worked on have given me lots of hope. In particular, I’ve really enjoyed the collating information on adaptation and resilience projects happening around the globe as part of the Resilience Shift project. Learning about different engineering techniques and the real world impact they are having on communities and climate change has been so encouraging. Similarly, working with GIZ to help communicate climate change and adaptation techniques to Madagascan farmers has been really rewarding, as this programme seeks to have a direct impact on the livelihoods of farmers, who make up around 80% of the country’s active population, many of whom live in poverty. 

Sophie Turner

  • Receiving new contracts with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for the use of Acclimatise’s Aware for Projects tool. AIIB is the fourth multilateral development bank to use our Aware tool.
  • Working with a number of external consultants (and colleagues) on the ‘Preparation of Seven Technical Papers for Input to Jamaica’s National Spatial Plan’. This 14 month project aimed to increase Jamaica’s resilience to climate change by mainstreaming climate change into development planning. One of our roles on the project was to complete the climate change sections for each of the seven technical papers that were based around the following themes: Land, Environment, Coastal, Marine Human settlements, Public Utilities and Social Amenities.

Anna Haworth

The highlight of my year was definitely the trip Chen, Liv and I made to Australia in early December, as part of a project with one of our extractives sector clients. On so many levels, it was ‘another world’… the balmy, hot weather in early December was a welcome relief from the blustery, cold and wet UK, yet the wild fires were (and continue to be) concerning; the luxuries and grandeur of a large corporates office was the other end of the spectrum from my small home office in rural northern England; the post-work drinks and fantastic meals out were poles apart from normal routines of baths and bedtime stories with our toddler; then I guess the obvious 10,500 miles made it feel a long way from home! Oh, and the workshops and meetings went very well – with rich and valuable information to build upon and the profile of physical climate risks successfully raised across the organisation, making for a happy client!

Uma Pal

My highlight of last year will definitely be the case study for Resilience Shift. I got to go on field visits to villages in India, and interview community beneficiaries, ground level staff and government stakeholders. While I’ve been on field visits and conducted interviews plenty of times, this was the first time I’ve recorded video interviews with a DSLR camera, tripod and mic, and the equipment only arrived the day before! I learned a lot from the experience, including taking videos, transcribing, assisting with translated subtitles, as well as understanding the different aspects of the case study.

I have now completed 4 months with Acclimatise, but have already learned such diverse things! I have to thank a very supportive and encouraging team for all of it!

Amanda Rycerz

For me, the highlight of my 2019 has to be hosting a nature-based solutions event at the InterAmerican Development Bank Pavillion at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, where we launched our publication: Nature-based Solutions: Increasing Private Sector Uptake for Climate-Resilience Infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Nadine Coudel

This year has been so good, but my highlights have got to be working with Robin, John, and Xianfu on a very interesting and challenging EIB project focusing on aligning with the Paris agreement and EU adaptation taxonomy, and celebrating Acclimatise’s 15th Birthday!

Jennifer Steeves

My 2019 highlights were:

  • Uma joining the Acclimatise team in the Delhi office
  • Co-designing and facilitating a global training of trainers programme on comprehensive climate risk management & loss and damage with an inspiring group of participants from 13 different countries
  • And our Strategy Days in July  – the entire team getting together to talk about our strategy, reflect, and connect at Missenden Abbey.

Georgina Wade

This year has been a great one for Acclimatise. For me, my highlights consisted of releasing our This New Climate podcast series, a series that investigates some of the toughest problems that humans face as we enter a new era of climate instability, and tell the stories of the projects and people who are grappling with them. Additionally, this year’s team strategy days were very productive and allowed for some great company bonding time, alongside with the development of new ideas and plans for the company moving forward. Also, tackling Adobe InDesign and getting a good grasp of it has been a big achievement/highlight of mine!

Climate resilience is make or break for businesses. Here’s why

Climate resilience is make or break for businesses. Here’s why

  • Even with strong climate action, we cannot avoid all of the consequences of climate change.
  • Companies must place a greater focus on building resilience.
  • As well as averting potentially huge losses, this course of action also offers a sizeable business opportunity.

Despite steadily growing climate action by both governments and companies, we continue to fall short of the level of ambition required to curb climate change. In fact, the UN estimates that even if we meet all the climate commitments of the Paris Agreement, temperatures can be expected to rise this century to 3.2°C above pre-industrial levels, far above the 1.5°C threshold to avoid the most severe climate impacts.

While this may not seem like much, it can contribute to the manifestation of immense catastrophes, such as the ongoing wildfire crisis in Australia spurred by heatwaves and flash floods in Indonesia.

We would be wise to prepare for this – and business is no exception.

Mitigation vs resilience

Attention is often focused on the steps businesses take to mitigate climate change – reducing or preventing emissions of greenhouse gases, or removing carbon from the atmosphere, in order to limit the magnitude of future warming. This remains Plan A in the fight against climate change, and businesses must drive the transition to a low-carbon economy, as seen through initiatives such as Mission Possible.

But even with a major step up in our levels of ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is evident that we cannot avoid all the consequences of climate change. We also need to adapt to rapidly changing climatic conditions, building the resilience of society to prepare for whatever might happen next, so that we can absorb and quickly bounce back from shocks, such as storms and droughts, when they do strike.

Top climate risks to business

The first step to better managing the growing climate risks that businesses face is understanding them.

Risk of trillion-dollar losses

The potential economic costs of inaction are staggering. Damage done by climate-related disasters and extreme weather in 2018 alone cost the US around $160 billion, and the numbers are only expected to increase as hazards become more complex and unpredictable.

This is just the start
This is just the startImage: NOAA

Businesses are also bracing themselves for direct impact to their bottom lines. In 2018, 215 of the world’s 500 biggest corporations, including giants like Apple, JPMorgan, Chase, Nestle and The 3M Company reported climate-related financial risks of just under $1 trillion.

Risk to infrastructure and supply chains

With around 80% of global trade embedded in supply chains, business leaders are increasingly aware of risks that could affect their ability to move through the world, including issues of cost, speed and responsiveness. In fact, CDP data reveals that 76% of suppliers have identified ways in which climate change could increase the risk of disruptions to their business.

Globalization means climate disasters can be felt around the world
Globalization means climate disasters can be felt around the worldImage: BSR

During the severe flooding in Thailand in 2011, more than 14,500 companies dependent on regional suppliers experienced significant damage with total insured losses between $15-$20 billion. Western Digital lost 45% of its shipments, HP lost $2 billion, and NEC cut 10,000 jobs due to a global shortage of hard disk drives.

Risk of damaged communities, reputations and stakeholder relations

The first climate-change bankruptcy last year was a historical milestone illustrating how resilience inaction can destroy a business, and cause immeasurable damage to the communities around it.

Following severe drought and devastating wildfires in Northern California last year, one of the largest utilities in the US, Pacific Gas and Electric, filed for bankruptcy, leaving the company with hundreds of filed lawsuits and an anticipated $30 billion in liabilities due to vulnerabilities in its infrastructure.

The fire was one of the nation’s deadliest in modern times. It took the lives of more than 80 people, destroyed more than 18,000 structures, and caused at least $11 billion of damage. The company has been heavily criticized by its consumers, state officials, courts and advocacy organisations for failing to invest in preventative maintenance and other improvements that could have mitigated losses.

Business opportunities in building resilience

It is not all doom and gloom, however. Done right, efforts to build resilience can yield a triple dividend: not only avoiding economic losses, but also offering positive economic and wider social and environmental benefits. In fact, the Global Commission on Adaptation estimates that investing $1.8 trillion globally in five areas could unlock benefits worth $7.1 trillion from now until 2030.

Image: Global Commission on Adaptation

Climate resilience is an opportunity to create new business products. For example, Goldman Sachs’ recent report, Making Cities Resilient to Climate Changedescribes potential for “one of the largest infrastructure build-outs in history”, while a global survey of finance players highlights a nascent industry investing in natural capital – water, soil, air and living organisms from which we derive a wide range of goods and services – as investors look to build resilience against climate change.

But not only does climate resilience offer businesses new opportunities, it also offers them a chance to do things better. A study of a dairy supply chain in Mexico showed that innovations that improve climate resilience such as heat-resistant building material, drought-resistant seeds, water-harvesting services, low-drip irrigation and new insurance schemes can also generate business opportunities, including new market niches, and new local technologies, products and services – often at a lower price.

The International Council on Mining and Metals also shows that by proactively managing climate risks, mining and metals companies can reduce costs (for example, by reducing water and energy use), while improving relationships with stakeholders.

Finally, the demands on businesses are changing. This year’s Global Risks Report shows that young people are considerably more concerned than older generations about climate and environmental risks. As millennials and Generation X become an increasing influential demographic, businesses who lead on resilience will be well placed to attract customers, investors and talent.

A new frontline of business leadership

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of current discussions on climate is that they are no longer exclusive to environmental experts, scientists or academics. Mainstream business is beginning to recognise the benefits of taking action.

Most recently, the World Economic Forum’s Resilience Action Platform (RAP), in collaboration with the UK Government, is supporting two new initiatives that highlight ambitious multistakeholder and business-led action on resilience. The Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment, which brings together over 30 organisations with assets totalling $5 trillion, aims to drive investment flows towards resilient assets by better pricing climate risks throughout the infrastructure investment value chain.

The Just Rural Transition, supported by six countries and 39 organizations, aims to help rural areas prepare for a shift towards climate resilient and sustainable food, land use and ecosystems.

As Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, told global leaders at the third Sustainable Development Impact Summit: “It is no longer about the cost of action, but about the cost of inaction, which is far greater.”

The gauntlet has been thrown down.

Climate resilience offers business a stark choice: Prepare now or pay later.

This article is part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
Photo by Andy Falconer on Unsplash
Environmental threats dominate 2020 Global Risks Report for the first time in history

Environmental threats dominate 2020 Global Risks Report for the first time in history

By Georgina Wade

The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report finds that severe threats to our climate account for all of the top long-term risks, with “economic confrontations” and domestic political polarization” recognized as significant short-term risks in 2020. For the first time in the history of the survey’s 10-year outlook, environmental threats dominate the top five long term risks by likelihood and occupy three of the top five spots by impact.

Source: World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2019-2020

The report provides a rich perspective on the major threats that may impact global prosperity in 2020 and beyond. The 15th edition of the report, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), draws on feedback from nearly 800 global experts and decision-makers who were asked to rank their concerns in terms of likelihood and impact.

The report forecasts a year of increased domestic and international divisions with the added risk of economic slowdown with 78% of survey respondents expecting economic confrontations and domestic political polarisation to rise in 2020. However, failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation is this year’s number one long-term risk by impact and number two by likelihood. And while other risk categories made their way into the top ten, climate risks underpin many of those identified.

Source: World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2019-2020

Established environmental risks include:

  • Loss of life
  • Stress on ecosystems
  • Food and water crises
  • Increased migration
  • Exacerbation of geopolitical tensions
  • Economic impacts
  • Capital market risks
  • Trade, labour and supply chain disruption

With climate change striking harder and more rapidly than expected, a planetary emergency resulting in loss of life, social and geopolitical tensions and negative economic impacts is entirely plausible. The report further proves that established leaders and experts agree on one thing: climate change is the prominent long-term risk the world faces. There is still scope for stakeholders to address the identified risks associate with climate change, but the window of opportunity is closing. Citing a need for coordinated, multi-stakeholder action to mitigate against the worst outcomes and build resilience across vulnerable communities and businesses, World Economic Forum President Børge Brende warns, “The window for action is still open, if not for much longer”.

You can access the full report here.

Cover photo by Charles Wiriawan on Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
2019 picks from the Acclimatise article archive – Data and Analytics

2019 picks from the Acclimatise article archive – Data and Analytics

Our third article of top picks from our 2019 article archive, features six articles related to climate data and analytics. As poor populations living in developing countries face frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, they are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the threat of global climate change. Emerging climate data and analytics services help in exposing these climate risks and vulnerabilities before disaster strikes, whilst providing methods of applying these data to real-world decision-making.

While demand for climate projections are growing, alternative methods of contributing to our understanding of how to build resilience to climate impacts are presenting themselves.  Citizen science has emerged as a useful tool for raising awareness, bridging data and capacity gaps and influencing governments through actively engaging civil society in research and monitoring.

Acclimatise remains at the forefront of providing effective climate analytics services. In fact, our analytics software division is creating some of the first user-centric climate change risk assessment applications, running on some of the world’s most sophisticated datasets. For example, platforms such as our Aware platform is being used by Multilateral Development Banks include the Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank to screen their project and investments for climate risks.

Beyond climate models: Climate adaptation in the face of uncertainty

By Erin Owain and Richard Bater

In recent years, demand has been placed on climate science by policy makers to produce increasingly high-resolution climate projections to inform shorter-term, local decisions. The authors of a recently published paper argue that this is partly attributable to an over-estimation, on the part of decision makers, of the level precision with which the current set of models are able to project future change.

Read the full article here.

People Power: How citizen science is building climate resilience in South Asia

By Uma Pal   

While diverse and extensive ecosystems, climates and socio-economic features in South Asia make it a challenge to collect adequate data and conduct research on the impacts of climate change, citizen science can be a useful tool for enabling more comprehensive research and resilience building initiatives both at the individual level and at scale.

Read the full article here.

Using earth observation data in climate risk assessment for financial institutions

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor and Jennifer Steeves

Working with financial institutions to understand analyse and disclose physical climate risks and opportunities to loans, investments and across portfolios demands the application of the most up-to-date climate data and information. By deploying data from historic climate observations, modelled projections of future climate and various social, environmental and economic datasets it is possible to begin to build a picture of risk exposure to financial institutions. 

Read the full article here.

Resilience planning can uncover investment opportunities at the city level

By Will Bugler

Countries in Asia are faced with a huge infrastructure investment gap, primarily resulting from a lack of identifiable, bankable projects at the city level. To address this, cities are in need of support to develop robust, integrated, and climate-responsive infrastructure plans. Investing in a resilience approach to urban planning can support municipal governments to develop such plans and unlock a multitrillion-dollar investment opportunity.

Read the full article here.

Earth Observation data: the new frontier in climate resilience

By Acclimatise News

Earth observation is the gathering of information about the Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems and has the capability to do so across remote and inaccessible terrain. Providing large quantities of timely and accurate environmental information, EO data can help governments around the world prepare for climate change impacts and inform sustainable and climate resilient development planning to account for future climate risks.

Read the full article here.

This New Climate – Episode 3: OASIS & the democratisation of climate data

By Acclimatise News

In the third episode of This New Climate, host Will Bugler explores how the OASIS group of companies are seeking to transform our ability to understand climate risk through a commitment to open source data.

Listen to the podcast here.

Climate change: COP26 Glasgow will provide world stage for Scotland’s green innovation

Climate change: COP26 Glasgow will provide world stage for Scotland’s green innovation

By Christopher J White, Francesco Sindico, and Keith Bell, University of Strathclyde

Every year since 1994, the UN has gathered together the world’s governments at its Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference of the parties (COP), held in a different country each time. The convention’s ultimate aim is to prevent “dangerous” human interference with the climate system. The onus is on developed countries to lead the way and the convention directs funds to developing countries to help them in their efforts.

COP25, held in Madrid at the beginning of December 2019, did not end well. Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg’s solemn speech gave short shrift to countries neglecting their responsibilities, and the likes of the US President, Donald Trump, and Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, responded with personal attacks.

Tensions ran high when climate justice activists were barred from entering the venue and talks stalled, and negotiations ending two days late with a compromise deal on cutting global carbon emissions. Given the raised status of the world’s climate emergency, it was a disappointing end to a conference for which many had high hopes.

In the cold light of a new year, everyone from activists to world leaders are reflecting on COP25’s ultimate failure to set down rules on creating a carbon market between countries. But already, behind the scenes, the UK is looking to the next summit – because this year COP26 will be pitching its tent in Glasgow.

More than 30,000 people are expected to descend on the city in November 2020. For those who live and work in Glasgow it will be a chance to experience being part of an important climate action event. People from around the country will be able to participate in hundreds of events that will be happening across the city. So why will COP26 be such a big occasion for Glasgow, and what will the city itself bring to the mix?

Why hosting COP26 is a big deal

The world’s governments have met every year for nearly three decades to (try to) agree how to stop – or at least reduce the impacts of – climate change. But the fact that these nations have not been able to meet the overall UNFCCC objectives is one of the reasons we now face a global climate emergency.

As world summits go, they don’t get much more important than the UN’s climate change convention. In those three decades, this will be the first time a COP summit has been held in the UK. From a policy perspective, COP26 will be important for at least four reasons:

1. It will take place in the year when all countries are asked to submit their new long-term goals – so ambition to address the global climate emergency will be high on the agenda.

2. It will have to finish the work that COP25 was unable able to conclude – setting out the rules for a carbon market between countries.

3. From Glasgow onwards, the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement will be the key driver of international climate action.

4. COP26 will come just weeks after the US presidential election with the potential implications this will have for US climate policy and US participation in COP26.

Come November 2020, the eyes of the world will be firmly on Glasgow.

Glasgow on show

The Scots have always been keen innovators.

Scotland has a long and rich history of discovery and innovation, including Glasgow’s past as a world-class centre of shipbuilding, trade and industrial production – a legacy that has contributed to greenhouse gas emissions but has also added much to the quality of human life. From pioneering work on the steam engine and wind turbines, to the invention of television and the life-saving discoveries of penicillingin and tonic and Billy Connolly’s shipyard humour, Glasgow has helped shape the modern world.

Glasgow and its history can also shed light on how cities, societies and people can reinvent themselves from a former industrial workhorse to a city of culture, services and new green technologies. Scotland’s collective commitment to net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045 now puts the country at the forefront of real action on the climate emergency. During COP26, Glasgow’s research and innovation will be on show to the world.

Engineers are leading the development of renewable technologies such as tidal energy and floating offshore wind turbines. Scotland is at the forefront of establishing hydrogen as a viable energy source, providing hubs for related skills and knowledge-sharing, to ensure that new technologies can be integrated into the grid and controlled.

Scotland also leads the way not only on the science innovation, but on ways in which research and development can provide community-informed solutions to sea and climate change challenges, and on how climate change relates to Scotland’s coastline and islands.

Researchers in Scotland are also at the forefront of the science-policy-practice interface, working with people in the field to deliver climate change risk and adaptation policies. And with climate change already a reality, Glasgow is also producing science that helps communities become more prepared and resilient.

Scotland is at the forefront of offshore wind turbine technology. Shutterstock

More than a political event

Glasgow’s experts and innovators will have their moment to shine at COP26 – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with those deciding the direction and effectiveness of the global debate on climate change action. COP26 Glasgow can also be an inspirational event for Scotland’s young people, the generation which will inherit both the burden of climate change and the means to address it.

As we build up to COP26, the Scottish government and Glasgow City Council, alongside the universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian, will be planning numerous events that will run alongside the main COP26 activities.

The countdown has begun. Glasgow will seek to demonstrate to the world how Scottish research and innovation is playing an important role in tackling the global climate emergency.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Cover photo by Artur Kraft on Unsplash.
Meet the Acclimatise Team ft. Amanda Rycerz

Meet the Acclimatise Team ft. Amanda Rycerz

What is your role at Acclimatise? What does a typical workday look like for you?

I am a Management Consultant at Acclimatise. I advise our clients – both public and private – on how to adapt to climate change, or how to offer products and services in support of climate adaptation. I specialize in a few different areas including leveraging nature-based solutions and natural infrastructure for adaptation, sector-specific applications of climate and weather data to support adaptation, and climate communications.

My days vary but in general consist of:

  • Meetings – lots of client and project partner meetings.
  • Lots of research, whether it’s desk-based (e.g. reading through guides, manuals, or scholarly literature) or interviewing experts on a particular topic that I am researching for our clients.
  • Writing – the majority of advising work is delivered in written form to our clients. I write a lot of market assessments and reports.
  • Spreadsheets – I make a lot of spreadsheets to keep myself on track!
  • Presentations – this isn’t a daily task but clients will ask me to present the findings of our work either to their internal teams, or occasionally at conferences and events on their behalf.

What inspired you to work on climate issues?

I love animals. My initial passion was for species conservation and my interest in climate issues evolved out of that. Climate change is of course a main driver of species loss and poses a major obstacle to the success of conservation work. So I’d say my interest in climate evolved through an interest and passion for conservation.

Additionally, at present I am inspired about the impact that climate change will have on wine. Wine growing is very dependent on terroir (climate and soils) and wine production is so tied to culture and history that in many cases it can’t adapt! Champagne can’t exist anywhere other than Champagne (let alone the English Channel, which is what climate projections suggest)!

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

When I was thirteen and in my first year of high school my nineteen year old sister went travelling to Europe (with an older, responsible family friend) for one month. I was incredibly jealous and told my parents that when I finished high-school I would also go travel to Europe, except for longer and maybe even on my own. My parents smiled amusingly at my starry-eyed aspirations and said something to the effect of “Ha, sure child! Make your own money and you can go off on your European trip, buy a Ferrari, whatever you want!”

I took their advice literally and drafted a resume which consisted of an elementary school education, babysitting a family friend’s kid, and pulling weeds from the neighbour’s yard. I went on a job hunt and after innumerable rejections (or worse yet lack of response) I got hired at a sandwich shop for $5.25 / hour. I worked a few times a week, saving as much of each paycheck as I could with my European adventure always in the front of my mind.

Four years later at the end of high school I had saved over $7000 and after insisting to my parents (“you said if I saved my own money I could go!”) I bought a one-way ticket to Europe. Following my 18th birthday I travelled alone for 4 months across 12 European countries and had the adventure of a lifetime.

When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?

I love spending time with my dog Sully whether it’s cuddling on the couch or going on long hikes in the woods. I am an aspiring wine aficionado and love to go to wine tastings, share wine with friends, and read books about wine regions. In fact, most of my leisure travels are visits to wine regions (e.g. Rioja, Spain, Napa and Sonoma, California, Champagne, France). I enjoy riding my bike (I sold my car last year and now biking is my primary mode of transportation), hiking, running, dancing and gym classes. I like reading classic literature – currently reading Great Expectations.

Sully, my four year old pit-bull mix.

What climate developments in science, policy, or public perceptions are you hoping to see this coming decade?

Climate action is needed on many scales. On the individual scale climate action is sometimes met with resistance as people don’t want to compromise their lifestyle. However, small or incremental changes can decrease carbon footprints while creating many positive benefits. I think we need to re-frame perceptions to focus on these positive benefits. For example:

  • If you bike or walk to work (instead of drive) you are not just reducing your carbon footprint you are exercising and being healthier (and saving costs in fuel and parking).
  • If you hang your laundry instead of putting it in the drier you will save in energy costs.
  • If you reduce meat consumption you will likely save on your grocery bill and possibly improve your overall health.

I’d like to see a shift where people are not thinking of personal climate mitigation in terms of compromise but rather what can be gained through co-benefits. If there was a perception shift on scale it could drive real change. I’m not talking about drastic lifestyle changes (sailing across the Atlantic instead of flying isn’t a realistic option for most people), but small, incremental changes that can have a large net effect.

What’s one thing that can instantly make your day better?

My dog jumping all over me when I walk through the door, a good exercise session, and a nice glass of wine in the evening along with good company.

Our 2019 Highlights – Part 1

Our 2019 Highlights – Part 1

From moving house, finishing multi-year projects, eating tapas, to meeting new project partners, publishing papers, and seeing climate change being marched on the streets – a lot has happened in 2019, and we asked our team what their best bits were:

Xianfu Lu

After seeing the mushrooming of ‘environmental FinTech’ firms & their headline grabbing reports in the past year or so, I was particularly comforted by the discomfort and concern expressed at the Public Sector Green Finance Summit held on 17 Oct 2019 (I spoke on the panel on ‘climate science and its implications for the financial sector’ ) by many from the financial services sector over the ‘wild west’ nature of the climate risk services landscape with a strong call for the establishment of standards.  Even more encouragingly, I found in my interactions with others that Acclimatise has been recognised as a trusted service provider to work with by both public and private sector clients.

Laura Canevari-Luzardo
My greatest Acclimatise related achievement has been helping to design and deliver a three day training workshop for financial institutions in Mexico. This initiative was organised under a joint initiative between GIZ and the IDB, which are both supporting the Asociación de Bancos de México (ABM) increasing their institutional capacity and their ability to govern and manage environmental, social, and climate related risks. There were over 40 attendees from over 20 financial institutions and the feedback we received from GIZ, IDB, ABM and participants was very very good!

In addition to this, I have published three peer reviewed articles this year in academic journals, and have recently moved to Panamá.

Will Bugler

Against a backdrop of rising alarm as the severity of climate change and its impacts became increasingly apparent and global emissions continued to rise, 2019 held some very real bright spots for me. It was the year, perhaps more than any other, when climate change messages really registered. This manifested in movements such as Fridays for Future, School Strikes, and XR, but also in a wider acceptance of climate change as a crucial issue – the significance of this shift should not be underestimated, in the recent UK general elections, for instance, every party manifesto included a commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier. 

For Acclimatise’s communications work (helping clients communicate about adaptation and resilience in a way that resonates with their audience) 2019 was the year of ‘resilience’. Resilience approaches to managing uncertain shocks and stresses from climate change are not new, but more companies and organisations are now making efforts to apply resilience concepts in practice. A key part of this is being able to communicate them effectively. Critical infrastructure development is an area where we’ve been especially active in this regard. Our work with the Asian Development Bank’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) is reaching its most exciting phase. The UCCRTF is a unique fund that helps to integrate resilience into ADB’s loan projects, over the last year Acclimatise has been working with partners to communicate the effectiveness of resilience approaches across the project development cycle in 25 secondary cities in South and South-East Asia. With much of the groundwork complete, next year will see a series of papers on this topic so watch this space. Another highlight has been our work with the pioneering Resilience Shift project, Acclimatise is producing a series of case studies about applying resilience concepts in practice and the first of these was finalised just before the Christmas holidays. We’re looking forward to launching this, and preparing two further studies, in early 2020.

Robin Hamaker-Taylor

This year, my highlight has been the enthusiasm we have seen in the banking and investment sectors as they start their physical climate risk analysis journeys. It’s been a privilege guiding these firms and I look forward to much more of this in 2020! 

I have also really enjoyed working with and learning from staff in different parts of Acclimatise, from our organisational learning team to our technical analytical directors.

Caroline Fouvet

I would say one of my most important work moments this year is fairly recent, and it was attending my first COP in Madrid. It’s a big event for anyone who works in the climate change sector and it’s great to be able to see in real life what you hear about in the news every year. Seeing so many people mobilised for the same cause gives you hope and makes you feel like there are actually individuals committed to doing something concrete, in spite of politicians being stuck in their short-term agendas and unable to agree between themselves on the way forward. I also enjoyed the VIP vibe of the COP, where I saw Greta Thunberg, Al Gore and John Kerry. And finally, I love Madrid and it was great to spend some time in Spain’s capital and enjoy a few tapas!

Maribel Hernandez

For me, this past year has seen:

  • the end of a long and exciting journey building capacities about loss and damage associated to climate change all around the world.
  • Consolidation of Acclimatise as one of the key actors for building climate resilience in Latin America, with very exciting projects in Mexico, Chile, Honduras and Brazil.
  • Contributing to increasing climate resilience of commercial banks in Mexico, South Africa and Honduras through supporting them towards the implementation of the TCFD´s recommendations and identifying opportunities for resilient investments.

John Firth

My highlights of 2019 have been: 

  • Having six new members of staff joins us over the last 6 months
  • The 2019 Acclimatise Strategy Event – full of optimism, enthusiasm, commitment, desire – I can’t believe all these amazing people work for Acclimatise!
  • I actually think the private and financial services sectors have woken up to climate change.
  •   #Schoolstrike4climate – makes me proud of our youth but also intensely angry that my generation has not delivered
  • Extinction Rebellion – whilst I have some concerns with their messages, I do support the mobilisation of the public and will always remember John Lymes a 91 years young Quaker standing up for what he believes in.

Maya Dhanjal

My 2019 Acclimatise highlight was wrapping up my first project with the Climate Finance team to deliver a climate risk analysis training to banks in Mexico and South Africa – this first project was complemented by the nuances of recently moving to Oxford, UK and joining the company which made the entire process that much more rewarding!

Art in the Blue Zone

Art in the Blue Zone

An interview with the 2019 COAL prize winners for a speculative futuristic short film about climate displacement.

The year is 2071. A white middle class family from the global north, somewhere in Europe, has been displaced by a climate-induced event. This could be an extreme event like a hurricane or flood, a slow onset event like sea-level rise or some combination of both, yet to be determined. There is a mass exodus from this European country, which is now uninhabitable, and families are migrating to countries in the global south to re-settle. The well-established migration routes that were common 50+ years ago (e.g. in 2020 and prior) are now inverted with the global north experiencing erratic and hostile climate impacts. Uganda is also contending with its own climate challenges. However, the country has maintained a very open-door refugee policy for decades allowing climate-displaced families from the global north to re-settle in its boundaries. The European family resettles in Uganda.

This is the premise of a speculative futuristic short film by Lena Dobrowolska and Teo Ormond-Skeaping, awarded the 2019 COAL prize for portraying the links between climate, disaster, and displacement. Lena and Teo presented the trailer of their short film during an interactive session at the 2019 Madrid COP conference, where they discussed the premise of the film with the audience. Following the screening, I was left with many questions and inquired with the filmmakers to gain further insight into their thought-provoking film.

Interview with Lena and Teo, the creators of the documentary short, “You never know. One day you too may be become a Refugee.”

Q: Tell me about the commentary that this film is trying to make.

The film is intended to highlight how important it is to extend generosity and love to those who have been displaced. In a future where climate change (even at 1.5 C degrees of warming) is anticipated to displace more people; more often; mobility will play an important role in helping people to adapt and continue to fulfill their aspirations. While most people in the next decade will move within their nation’s boundaries, some will have to cross borders such as those who hail from low-lying islands. If in the future the Global North is increasingly divided by walls and militarized border lines, we are going to continue to compound the victimhood (which our emissions have imposed) on those who are most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

In our film we are working with queer theory to recast the migrant narrative with white middle class protagonists and to invert the North-South power dynamic. We do so as a way of highlighting how nations in the Global South like Uganda are actually leading the way in the implementation of liberal refugee policies, have healthier cultures of migration, and presently host more refugees than nations in the Global North.

The recasting of the migrant narrative has been devised to draw attention to the vulnerability of those in the Global North who do not currently consider themselves vulnerable to climate change, how migration has been negatively portrayed, and how movement could be better facilitated. The film is not intended to scare people, but to encourage viewers to explore how migration could be made more bearable and also to see migration as an adaptation strategy. It is also intended to encourage viewers to extend greater empathy to those (predominantly black and brown people from the Global South) who have no choice but to migrate by bringing the issue closer to home. We will do this by showing how our fictional family, unwelcomed by neighboring countries in the Global North, is hosted with generosity and compassion in the Global South.

By inverting the North-South power dynamic and by portraying a future scenario in which nations in the Global South have been able to develop via carbon neutral development pathways following climate reparations to no growth economies, we wish to highlight what must be achieved through climate justice and how this act of remission could create a healthier global culture of kinship and fluid mobility. 

Q : In your film, do you envision that the Global South (e.g. Uganda, or whichever country you focus on) has taken great measures over the past 50 years to increase adaptive capacity (which is why the displaced Europeans are heading there) or is the driver because they can’t stay where they are, and Uganda (or other Global South country) is accepting of climate-displaced persons? In other words, is the draw of Uganda that is it more resilient, that it welcomes displaced persons, or some combination of both?

And if the draw is adaptive capacity – what did the Global South do effectively in bolstering adaptive capacity (e.g. indigenous knowledge, community adaptation, etc.)? Conversely, did the north follow business-as-usual until collapse?

A: This is where our idea gets complicated and perhaps involves a little bit of world warping and scenarios thinking. We are still working on this but here is what we have got so far:

The Global North and the Global South are not just places in our film but two very different future scenarios which our family travel between. The Global North represents a worst case 3-6°C of warming; business as usual; catastrophic future scenario full of techno fixes, authoritarian governance, and disastrous events. The Global South represents an aspirational ≤1.5 degrees of warming future scenario that was made possible by Climate Justice and ambitious NDC’s in which global equality is balanced.

Our fictional families passage from the North to the South, from the bad scenario to the good, will be determined by the decisions that a group of negotiators (who we will also portray) are making at COP26 in 2020. At the beginning of our film (as in reality) the climate talks are blocked by key nations from the Global North and so the future scenario in which the family are migrating in is disastrous. But as the film progresses and the climate talks led by negotiators from the Global South near consensus on NDC’s that limit warming to 1.5°C, improved mobility for climate displaced persons, and climate finance for Loss and Damage (Climate Justice), the family’s luck improves, coinciding with their approach to the Global South.   

The ≤1.5°C Global South warming scenario has been achieved through a massive and rapid reduction of emissions and a re-distribution of wealth along with carbon neutral development pathways, and no growth economies. To achieve this scenario Global South nations have used indigenous knowledge and technologies in combination with renewable energy to adapt to 1.5°C impacts and to mitigate and capture their own emissions in transitioning to carbon neutrality. Not only have indigenous knowledge and technologies been used in the Global South, but they have also been applied in the Global North following South-North collaboration. The redistribution of wealth has been achieved through a combination of governments agreeing to finance Loss and Damage and through compensation derived via legal trails that have fined former Big Oil companies and their associates guilty of crimes against humanity and ecocide.

Q: There are still some elements that are yet to be defined in the final version of your film. After showing the film proposal to some audiences (for example at COP25) has it shaped the way you envision the film coming together? If so, how?

Yes, very much so. The film is still very much in the research phase and the opportunity to show the proposal film to an audience of experts at COP25 was invaluable. We had learned that we won the 2019 COAL price only a few days before COP25 – so the film proposal went from being a pie in the sky idea to a tangible project that needed to be completed by COP26 in November 2020! Having only just realised what a powerful network of people and organisations we had tapped into by winning the award and partially securing the funding for the film, we were quite literally thrown into the deep end! Here we were presenting the project in front of the Task Force on Displacement, UNFCCC negotiators, heads of UN organisations like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and International Organization for Migration (IOM) and many other talented researchers from the field of climate and displacement. Luckily, the generosity of these experts is boundless and what ensued can best be described as ‘research through conversation’. Starting with some basic questions such as: What might displace our family? In an ideal world what would be done better to support climate induced migrants? Should we use the term Climate Refugee? We started to construct the narrative of what will happen to our family and to explore some of the difficult conceptual and moral questions surrounding climate and migration. Then when the tables turned and we were asked questions by the experts, we were confronted with questions that we will have to grapple with as filmmakers. For example, whether or not audiences will be receptive to another doom and gloom film about climate change, and how do we intend to show the positive impacts of migration.

For us the most impactful aspect of COP25 was what we observed during the informal Loss and Damage negotiations. We were very shocked by how palpable the power dynamic (Structural racism…) between the Global North and the Global South was within the negotiations. A few key nations like the USA and Russia were using cold technical language to delay, obstruct, and reject meaningful progress on Loss and Damage, while the majority (those from the G77, AOSIS and The LDC Group) implored action through impassioned statements and proposals. Without having been in the privileged position of being able to attend those meetings and witness this power play, we would not have written negotiations into our film. As a result, the narrative would have been would have be far simpler and less representative of what is really delaying meaningful action on Climate Change. This is of course a lack of political will in the Global North, a fear of wealth redistribution, and losing geopolitical dominance. We very much hope that “art in the blue zone” – that is artists being able to access UNFCCC’s Conference Of the Parties as UN observers – will become a reality and that other artists will be able to undertake field work at COP as well as contribute to climate and cultural research that will bring forth the paradigm shift that needs to happen to make 1.5°C a reality.

 Lena and Teo expect to premiere their film at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Cover photo from Wikimedia Commons.
2019 picks from the Acclimatise article archive – Law

2019 picks from the Acclimatise article archive – Law

Our second article of top picks from our 2019 article archive, features six articles related to climate adaptation and the legal services sector. As climate change and its impacts become increasingly transparent, so has a rise in litigation and the emergence of climate-specific national legislation and policies.  With exposure to legal liability an almost certainty resulting from a failure to understand, disclose and manage climate risk, it is vital to look ahead in an effort to reduce legal liabilities in a changing climate. 

Climate risk disclosures remain a firm part of the voluntary disclosure landscape, due largely in part to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. In fact, recent analysis from accounting literature finds that firms following best practice through TCFD-style scenario-analysis and disclosures stand to benefit from minimising liability risk. Over the next decade, Acclimatise will continue to work on physical climate risk and adaptation with corporates and financial institutions helping them to identify and respond to physical risks.

Update to landmark legal opinion highlights growing climate liability of company directors

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor and Nadine Coudel

The 2016 Hutley opinion set out the ways that company directors who do not properly manage climate risk could be held liable for breaching their legal duty of due care and diligence. An update by the Centre for Policy Development reinforces and strengthens the original opinion by highlighting the financial and economic significance of climate change and the resulting risks.

Read the full article here.

Climate change could lead to great wave of legal liability

By Nadine Coudel and Dr Richard Bater 

New International law governing the transition to a low-carbon society and responses to climate risk is driving a rapid rise in climate-specific national legislation and policies, and an increasing amount of litigation. For companies, governments and other organisations these developments provide clear impetus to understand, disclose and manage climate risk. Failure to do so will increase exposure to legal liability. 

Read the full article here.

Climate and law: Sarah Barker, Special Counsel and Head of Climate Risk Governance at MinterEllison

By Will Bugler

In this Acclimatise Conversation on Climate Change Adaptation, Sarah Barker, Special Counsel and Head of Climate Risk Governance at MinterEllison, talks us through why it is so important, from a legal perspective, for businesses to govern for the financial risks associated with climate change.

Read the full article and listen to the podcast here.

Podcast: Global law firm Clyde & Co warns clients of a ‘wave of litigation’ from climate change

By Acclimatise News

In this Acclimatise Conversation on Climate Change Adaptation, we speak with Clyde and Co lawyers Wynne Lawrence and Nigel Brook, about the emerging field of climate liability risk and the pioneering works that the firm is doing to advise its clients about how to respond.

Read the full article and listen to the podcast here.

Podcast: Legal implications of climate change are a big deal for corporates says legal analyst Marcela Scarpellini

By Acclimatise News

In this Accliamtise Conversation on Climate Change Adaptation, we speak with Marcella Scarpellini, a lawyer and legal analyst at right.based on science, a climate metrics and data services provider that is helping companies manage the financial risks of climate change. Here she discusses why legal implications of climate change are a big deal for corporates.

Read the full article here.

Voluntary climate disclosures can reduce litigation risk

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor, Richard Bater, Nadine Coudel

With climate risk disclosures now a crucial part of the voluntary disclosure activities of many corporates and financial institutions, questions around the extent to which they may leave disclosures exposed to litigation linger. Recent analysis from the accounting literature indicates that voluntary disclosures can actually lead to reduced litigation risk.

Read the full article here.

Matching supply and demand: A typology of climate services

Matching supply and demand: A typology of climate services

A new framework for classifying and understanding types of current and potential climate data and information has been presented in a peer-reviewed journal article due to be published shortly (in press as of 8 January 2020). The framework put forth in the article can help professionals in the financial services, urban planning, and tourism sectors articulate their climate service preferences. It can also help identify challenges and opportunities for other climate service users and service providers. Due to be published in the journal Climate Services, the open-access article is titled ‘Matching supply and demand: A typology of climate services’. It is the result of research carried out in the EU’s Horizon 2020 EU-MACS project, where Acclimatise led the engagement with the financial services sector. 

The European Roadmap for Climate Services defines ‘climate service’ as “…the transformation of climate-related data — together with other relevant information — into customised products such as projections, forecasts, information, trends, economic analysis, assessments (including technology assessment), counselling on best practices, development and evaluation of solutions and any other service in relation to climate that may be of use for the society at large. As such, these services include data, information and knowledge that support adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk management (DRM)”. The European MArket for Climate Services (EU-MACS) project sought to understand and develop the climate services market in Europe and beyond. The climate service market is currently undergoing rapid expansion and has the potential to be a rewarding space for both users and providers.

The article, led by researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, (Visscher and Stegmaier) indicates that although the climate services market is growing and consolidating, there has not yet been ‘extensive reflection on the kinds of services such a new market could encompass, and on the ways in which formats can be created that match supply and demand’ (pg. 1). Using a research approach based on Constructive Technology Assessment (CTA), the article provides this by elaborating and illustrating a typology of the current variety of climate services seen. Specifically, the article presents a typology of climate services, including: ‘Maps & Apps’, ‘Expert Analysis’, ‘Climate-inclusive Consulting’, and ‘Sharing Practices’ types (see figure 1).

Figure 1: A Typology of Climate Services (Visscher et al., in press 2020)

The typology provides a framework for the further development of climate services as it can be used by actual and potential providers of climate services to reflect upon the general outline of their services. In particular, the article goes some way to capture examples of climate service use cases and demand in the financial services, urban planning, and tourism sectors. These are also elaborated in more detail in the EU-MACS outputs. Additionally, policymakers can use the article to reflect upon the kind of services they want to stimulate through funding, procurement, or other measures. Supporting these services helps to professionalise climate services and to stimulate their uptake in complex and institutionalised settings (Visscher et al., in press 2020).

Acclimatise’s Robin Hamaker-Taylor, a co-author of the article stated: ‘This research is an important and innovative effort to outline the contours of the climate services market. As the climate impacts are increasingly felt, climate data is proving increasingly useful, especially by those in the financial services sector. Apart from providers and policymakers, the framework we set out and illustrate in this article can be a useful starting point for users such as financial services firms who would like to begin their climate data journey and peer into the wide world of climate services.’ 

Cover photo by NASA on Unsplash