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The private sector’s climate change risk and adaptation blind spots

Abstract

The private sector is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, from increased operational costs to disrupted production. Investors are increasingly asking companies to disclose these risks as the physical consequences of climate change become financially material. In reviewing more than 1,600 corporate adaptation strategies, we find significant blind spots in companies’ assessments of climate change impacts and in their development of strategies for managing them. Adaptation approaches that consider broader climate change risks to supply chains, customers and employees, and that integrate ecosystem-based strategies, could limit the ‘tragedy of the horizon’ characterized by inadequate and too-late action.

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Data availability

The individual company disclosures to investors that support the findings of this study are available publicly at https://www.cdp.net/en/responses/. The same disclosures are available in Excel format from CDP but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are, however, available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of CDP.

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Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science at Conservation International and BHP’s Alliance with Conservation International for supporting portions of the research.

Author information

D.G.H. and A.G. conceived the study. A.G. wrote the manuscript. D.G.H., W.R.T. and J.D. contributed to and commented on the manuscript.

Competing interests

BHP provided a portion of A.G.’s funding during this research. BHP is one of 1,630 companies that disclosed data on climate change risk and adaptation on which our assessment is based.

Correspondence to Allie Goldstein.

Supplementary Information

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    Supplementary methods, Supplementary tables 1-3, Supplementary notes, Supplementary references

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Fig. 1: Relative use of soft, hard and EbA approaches among companies.
Fig. 2: Typology of soft, hard and EbA private-sector themes.