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Climate Change Analysis Case Study: Climate Change Explained and Economic & Market Implications

Climate change will affect economies and markets in the coming decades at an accelerating rate if we do not bend the PPM curve back toward the x-axis. Even if we eventually do bend that curve, certain changes to our climate in our lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes, our grandchildren’s lifetimes, and our great-grandchildren’s lifetimes are already set and likely irreversible. It is true that CO2 PPM levels have been much higher in the history of earth than they have been in human history. Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are estimated to have reached nearly 7,000 PPM about 500 million years ago and are estimated to be in the low thousands during the age of the dinosaurs. We have built our societies in a time of much lower CO2 concentrations, however, and the levels of CO2 PPM concentrations we can expect in the coming decades will likely lead to a hotter environment that is increasingly hostile to our way of life. The rate at which CO2 levels are rising may also be increasingly beyond our ability as humans to adapt (these physical risks will be discussed later in the report). Ultimately, climate that at about a 945 PPM concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, human cognitive ability drops by about 15%. With a CO2 level at 1,400 PPM, cognitive ability is estimated to drop by about 50%. A hotter planet means more drought, more famine, more extreme weather events, more property damage, and more dislocation of humanity than any of us have seen in our lifetimes. We cannot know when on the calendar these disasters will arrive, but we can be confident that they will. The investment profession needs to incorporate these new realities into our analysis in order to help efficiently allocate capital in a world where the effects of climate change are increasing. Climate change will impact every company and every investor on earth. Some will indeed benefit, and others may lose everything. Financial professionals need access to material data on climate change in order to make the most informed investment decisions possible. We need a robust market price on carbon emissions; we need timely, comparable, and audited data on material climate-related metrics; and we need to know how the companies we invest in are responding to climate change.

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