November 19, 2020

Utility Dive, Waste Dive & Smart Cities Dive join forces to cover the cost of climate change

It seems like another lifetime, but it was just shy of a year ago when Industry Dives energy and environment teams gathered in our main conference room to start brainstorming and planning major projects we wanted to dive into in 2020.

At the top of our list: an in-depth examination into the climate-related risks and financing opportunities the cities and companies we cover were grappling with. We wanted to dig into how much these entities were expected to spend dealing with the impacts of intensifying floods, fires and other disasters and compare those projected costs to the costs of mitigation. We wanted to examine which players in the industries were disclosing climate-related risks and gain insights into their approaches to mitigating their climate impacts. This is critical information as government and academic studies have consistently shown that investments in mitigation can result in significant avoided costs when it comes to worsening climate catastrophes.

Our reporters and editors made a sharp pivot this year to cover the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on cities and the utility and waste and recycling sectors. But our desire to dig into this climate project never wavered and this week we published some major elements in our package the spans three Dives: Calculating the costs of climate change in the waste, energy sectors

Utility Dive unveiled an interactive tool utilizing data submitted to the Carbon Disclosure Project that will allow our readers to quickly learn critical information about the physical risks climate change poses to utilities, including changes in precipitation, floods and cyclones, rising mean temperatures, rising sea levels and wildfires, and compare the costs of the impacts of such events to the cost of mitigation for 18 utilities throughout the United States.

Waste Dive launched a tool to monitor the climate targets of major companies in the waste and recycling industry. This is accompanied by a feature exploring the sectors evolving approach to addressing its contributions to climate change and investments to achieve these targets. These efforts not yet fully embraced by some sizable private players in the sector are being driven by investor and customer demands for more detailed environmental, social and governance reports.

Sister publication Smart Cities Dive previously published an in-depth examination into the efforts to fund and finance climate action through ballot initiatives, with billions of dollars in play for cash-strapped cities.

This is only the beginning of our reporting on the financial implications of climate change for the sectors and cities we report on.

In the coming days, Utility Dive will publish in-depth stories examining whether the wildfire risks that drove Pacific Gas & Electric into bankruptcy could impact other utilities as well as the costly impacts posed by intensifying flooding risks. Future reporting could expand beyond physical risks to more fully cover transitional and other risks related to climate, add coverage of other players in the sectors and examine how cities are funding mitigation efforts in a post-COVID 19 world and under the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

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