Climate Change Risk And Impact Assessment For Global Diversified Mining Group - Introduction - Preprint 09-015

Geyer, T.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 5
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2009
The Carbon Disclosure Project (the pre-eminent global initiative for institutional investor collaboration on climate change) groups the business risks (and opportunities) related to climate change into four categories: 1. Regulatory risks from tightening legislation (and opportunities for companies that can make the carbon market work for them), e.g. rising costs for carbon and energy-intensive processes. 2. Competitive risks & opportunities generated by a possible decline in customer demand for carbon/energy intensive products (and opportunities from a consequent rise in demand for efficient / low carbon products). 3. Reputational risks from perceived inaction on climate change (and benefits to those perceived to be ?solutions providers?). 4. Physical risks from changes to climatic patterns, e.g. asset damage from extreme weather events; project delays; water scarcity; resource risks as certain crops become no longer viable in certain areas and new supply chains become necessary; and potential human and socio-political impacts. All of these are already having repercussions for businesses in certain sectors and geographies. The understanding of specific impacts of climate change is still evolving but it is clear that climate change will have a material impact on the value of many businesses, either directly or indirectly. Many commentators and analysts consider that rising energy costs are likely to represent the most direct and immediate investment risk that climate change and the resulting regulatory responses will create for business in the near term. However, it is already possible to identify numerous examples of competitive and reputational risks and opportunities that are leading to significant value creation or destruction in business: the success of the Toyota Prius; the rush by the UK?s leading supermarket retailers to ?green? their brands; and the surging fortunes of companies involved in the manufacture of renewable energy generation equipment, are all manifestations of this trend. In addition, the potential physical impacts of climate change are also making themselves felt in certain sectors: an example is the Australian wine industry, suffering after an extreme and prolonged period of drought. THE PROJECT This paper describes a project undertaken for a multinational mining company to examine the physical risks from climate change across its international business operations. The study addressed 163 components of the business and included operating sites (mines, smelters, and refineries), key transport routes (road and rail) and port links. The inclusion of the transport networks and ports is extremely important; key transport routes (e.g. a key railway link) may often be impacted (e.g. by flooding) far more than individual sites due to their large geographic exposure and multiple potential failure points. Extreme weather events causing loss of life and major economic damage continue to be front page news. According to the World Meteorological Organization, January to July 2007 ?was marked by record weather extremes in many regions across the world.? Inevitably, the associated phenomena are starting to impact business and investments, not so much as deal breakers, but in changing the parameters of risk management and the approaches required to devise mitigation measures. EXAMPLES OF EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS No one event can be presented as directly attributable evidence of climate change, however climate change projections suggest that the frequency and severity of many extreme weather events can be expected to increase in a warming world. In August 2003, a heat wave struck Europe, with temperatures as high as 42°C (108°F). As summer temperatures in much of northern Europe rarely exceed 30°C (86°F), the area was unprepared for the disaster, and many thousands of deaths occurred. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic damage along the Gulf Coast of the United States, forcing the effective abandonment of south-eastern Louisiana (including New Orleans) for up to two months and damaging oil wells that resulted in increased oil prices. Katrina killed over 1,800 people and caused at least $75 billion in damages, making it one of the costliest natural disasters of all time. This was followed in September, by Hurricane Rita which left 119 people dead along the U.S. Gulf Coast, causing $9.4 billion in damage. In January 2006, hundreds of people were killed when Russia, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia experienced the coldest weather for decades. In summer 2007, dramatic floods in the south central region of England, UK left 350,000 people without drinking water and many without electricity. Transport infrastructure was severely disrupted; combined with floods which occurred earlier in the summer in Yorkshire (North England), the damage is estimated to total over £2 billion. ASSESSING RISKS FROM CLIMATE CHANGE To date, only a minority of companies have attempted to quantify the risks from climate change. However, investors are seeking greater disclosure of climate change related risks and opportunities and it is expected companies that can demonstrate they are prepared for climate change will attract higher market valuations. Climate Change Threats A variety of climate change threats were examined for their potential to have a potential measurable impact on the mining company?s business operations. Those considered most significant were included in the study and are shown in Table 1 (see Appendix A). Certain threats can be considered as being cyclical in nature and the future predictions may suggest a change in the frequency and severity of such events (e.g. storms/hurricanes, rainfall, drought). However other threats are associated with a gradual change over time (e.g. loss of glaciers, loss of permafrost, sea level rises). A slightly different approach is needed to address this differing nature of the threats, as described subsequently. Climatic Regions Much of the research and data associated with climate change is collected and reported on a regional basis. An example of the climate change impacts predicted for a number of climatic regions is shown in Table 2 (see Appendix A).
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