Climate adaptation investor roadmap points way through global warming

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 6:05 AM

(Reuters) – Faster and more furious wildfires and other natural disasters are sparking investors’ interest in betting on how to adapt to inevitable changes to the climate, several climate-focused groups said in a report on Thursday.

So-called “climate adaptation” companies are attracting increased attention from big investors, with BlackRock Investment Institute calling adaptation an emerging investment theme.

Climate focused investors have long put money into projects that are intended to slow climate change by cutting emissions, such as solar power and electric vehicles.

Adaptation-oriented products, by contrast, help customers and wider humanity survive deteriorating climate conditions: drought-tolerant crops, air filters, disease surveillance systems tuned to maladies that thrive in heat, wildfire spotting systems and cooling vests for warehouse workers are all examples.

Adaptation has been described as a nascent opportunity for years, but investors have virtually ignored it, according to the report by the non-profit Global Adaptation and Resilience Investment Group (GARI) with support from the Bezos Earth Fund, ClimateWorks Foundation and MSCI Sustainability Institute.

Rising numbers of intense wildfires, droughts, and major storms are changing that.

“All those things are driving investors, just like the rest of society, to wake up to the fact that we’re going to need to much more immediately adapt and build resilience to climate change,” said Jay Koh, chair of GARI and managing director of investment firm Lightsmith Group.

The report lays out a process for finding companies with adaptation businesses or products, measuring how much revenue or growth comes from those lines, and assessing whether the business is achieving its climate-focused goals.

As a test, the MSCI Sustainability Institute used artificial intelligence chatbots to hunt through company data and reports for signs of adaptation. It found about 11% of publicly traded companies globally had some adaptation-related business.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Stephen Coates)