Report: $8.1B of Sandy’s Damages Attributable to Climate Change

Roughly $8.1B of Superstorm Sandy’s damages in 2012 are attributable to “climate-mediated anthropogenic sea level rise,” a report out this week shows.

The report published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications examined how much of the more than $60 billion in damages from Sandy were due to climate change.

Studies have found no evidence that Sandy’s intensity, size or storm track were made more likely by climate change, but this study suggests that climate-change driven sea level rise made the storm worse.

The study examined the region of New York and the Atlantic coast of New Jersey, where most of the storm’s damages took place, plus Connecticut.

“We find that across the full range of our estimates, climate-mediated ASLR drove multi-billions of dollars of damage from Hurricane Sandy,” the study states. “More broadly, this case study underscores that human-caused sea level rise has contributed to damages associated with other past coastal floods and will increasingly aggravate damages in the future as sea levels continue to rise, driven by anthropogenic warming. The approach demonstrated here may be applied to quantify those damages.”

New York City recently embarked on a $1.45 billion resiliency project in lower Manhattan along the East River, an area devastated by flooding in Sandy.

Greenberg

Seventy groups delivered a letter this week calling on Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg to strengthen Chubb’s coal policy and stop insuring new oil and gas. A number of the groups were wearing Evan Greenberg masks, and they delivered the letter to Chubb headquarters in New York, Zurich, and San Francisco in advance of Chubb’s shareholder meeting on Thursday.

Greenberg has been outspoken on the need for the industry to do its part on climate.

Following the company’s quarterly earnings, in which Chubb reported sizable net income of $2.30 billion in the first quarter of 2021, he called a harder firming market for commercial P/C in most of the world a “rational and necessary response to years of industry underpricing and a more uncertain risk environment today driven by climate change, litigation, environment and cyber-related exposures.”

Last year Chubb announced it will no longer underwrite the construction and operation of new coal-fired plants or new risks for companies that generate more than 30% of their revenues from coal mining or energy production from coal.

The groups that delivered the letter to Chubb argued that the company continues to insure “climate-wrecking projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline in Canada.”

The letter, which was signed by Indigenous Peoples, climate justice groups, community organizations, and public health groups, states that Chubb has not done much on climate since adopting the 2019 policy.

“Through your refusal to take further action, Chubb has gone from a leader to a laggard,” the groups stated.

G-7 Push

UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer is pushing the Group of Seven (G-7) economies to impose mandatory reporting of environmental risks on their big companies, Bloomberg reported in an Insurance Journal article this week.

The biggest companies would have to report annually on their exposure to risks and opportunities presented by climate change. The proposal follows guidelines set out in 2017 by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.

People familiar with the matter said climate disclosure is a priority being pushed by the UK presidency in the finance track of the G-7 talks this year, and a senior official said the discussions are on a knife-edge and could yet go either way.

G20 companies will face common disclosure requirements on climate change risks under plans developed by the Financial Stability Board, Reuters recently reported.

The FSB said in April said it will set out in July ways to promote consistent, high-quality climate disclosures.

Bloomberg reported that a senior UK official said the discussions are on a knife-edge and could yet go either way.

State Fund

California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund announced that construction has begun on an extensive sustainability and solar energy program, which includes solar, electric vehicle charging stations and energy storage at seven locations throughout California.

The program is projected to save nearly $65 million over 20 years.

State Fund says it plans to install 9.8 MW of solar, 2 MW/4.3 MWh of energy storage and 150 charging stations, offsetting nearly 230,000 metric tons of green-house-gas emissions over a 20-year period.

The project was designed and constructed by ENGIE North America.

“Breaking ground on this project is a huge step forward in our drive to reduce our use of fossil fuels, limit the load we place on local and statewide electrical grids, and improve air quality throughout California,” Andreas Acker, State Fund’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer, said in a statement.

The construction sites are located in Vacaville, Pleasanton, Redding, Fresno, Bakersfield, Sacramento and Riverside. The portfolio of solar projects is projected to produce 311 GWh over 20 years, which State Fund says is enough to power more than 26,500 homes, and provide a reduction in CO2 emissions equivalent to taking 47,000 gas vehicles off the road.

The EV charging stations will be available to employees and used by the company’s fleet vehicles. State Fund’s fleet currently includes eight battery electric vehicles.

State Fund is California’s not for profit provider of workers’ compensation, and it is funded by premiums and investment income.

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