Counting the cost of water risks, record temperatures, and millennial magnanimity

Companies ignoring water-related risks says CDP

The impacts of water-related risks such as droughts, flooding and water scarcity cost business an estimated $14 billion this year, according to new data compiled by disclosure advocacy group CDP. And the threat is set to get worse. The 607 large companies in CDP’s sample identify more than 2,000 water-related risks that they expect to materialise over the next six years. Despite this, the business community appears slow to respond, with only three-fifths (61%) of corporations tracking their water use – up a mere 3% on last year.

The industries most in the firing line when it comes to water risks are utilities (hit by costs of $1.8bn in 2016) and materials companies ($1.7bn). The overall figure for 2016 is slightly skewed by groundwater clean-up operations undertaken by Japanese power giant Tepco following the 2011 tsunami. The company reports spending almost $10bn in 2016 on remediation work around its damaged Daiichi nuclear power plant. Even discounting the Tepco case, the financial impact of water problems still well exceeds the previous year’s total of $2.5bn. More than one quarter (164 companies) of CDP’s sample report facing “detrimental impacts” from water over the last...

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