Companies See Climate Change Hitting Their Bottom Lines in the Next 5 Years

Jun 6, 2019 by

Total, the French energy giant, has cited analysts’ claims that efforts to tame global warming might render some reserves “unburnable.” A Total offshore facility, above, sent flames into the sky off the coast of Angola. Credit Rodger Bosch/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Brad Plumer

By Brad Plumer


WASHINGTON — Many of the world’s biggest companies, from Silicon Valley tech firms to large European banks, are bracing for the prospect that climate change could substantially affect their bottom lines within the next five years, according to a new analysis of corporate disclosures.

Under pressure from shareholders and regulators, companies are increasingly disclosing the specific financial impacts they could face as the planet warms, such as extreme weather that could disrupt their supply chains or stricter climate regulations that could hurt the value of coal, oil and gas investments. Early estimates suggest that trillions of dollars may ultimately be at stake.

Even so, analysts warn that many companies are still lagging in accounting for all of the plausible financial risks from global warming.

“The numbers that we’re seeing are already huge, but it’s clear that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Bruno Sarda, the North America president for CDP, an international nonprofit that wrote the new report and works with companies around the world to publicly disclose the risks and opportunities that climate change could create for their businesses.

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