Climate change risk should be factored in to investment decisions

Ahead of mandatory requirements to disclose climate change related risks coming into force in April 2022, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has published a new Framework providing businesses with a consistent methodology for measuring climate-related risks across their built assets, as well as empowering asset owning businesses of all sizes to better understand and plan for the physical risks of climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that changes in weather and climate extremes have intensified over the last seven years. For the built environment, climate hazards present significant physical risks to both tangible assets and business supply chains, as well as threatening their financial viability through increased insurance premiums, accelerated depreciation and higher incidences of stranded assets. In the UK, modelling predicts that over 500,000 residential and commercial properties will be at high-risk to the physical impacts of climate change by 2050.

Aligning with recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), in October 2021 the UK Government announced that physical risk disclosure would become mandatory for large organisations and financial institutions from April 2022, ensuring the effects of climate change are routinely considered within investment decisions.

UKGBC’s Framework for Measuring and Reporting of Climate-related Physical Risks to Built Assets sets out to provides organisations who will be required to report under new rules with a consistent methodology for undertaking self-analysis of physical risks at the asset level. Whilst the TCFD moves towards greater standardisation of measurement and reporting techniques, it lacks the granularity necessary to explicitly guide organisations through this process at asset level. This Framework seeks to plug that gap and provide industry consensus on physical risk disclosure methodologies at a built asset level, with the intention of increasing the quantity, quality, and consistency of assessments.

The first step in the Government’s Roadmap to economy-wide disclosures will see mandatory reporting for the UK’s largest organisations and financial institutions. If successful, this requirement will be rolled out further to include large asset owning entities by 2025. This Framework provides businesses with the opportunity to get ahead of the curve on their impending reporting requirements, and close the gap between the level of climate-related risks we face and accurate assessments of those risks.

The UKGBC claims that an increasing number of investors and lenders are recognising the materiality of climate-related financial risks across their portfolios, and proactively demanding more information and transparency to judge these risks effectively. The content of UKGBC’s Framework will therefore also be of value to any asset owning business or individual who want to better understand the physical risks of climate change.

UKGBC’s guidance includes detailed information on the physical risk assessment process; a methodology for measuring climate-related physical risks at the built asset scale; and a reporting framework which can be used to support the preparation of TCFD disclosure reports.