Left High & Dry: 6 Things You May Have Missed
by China Water Risk 30 April, 2021
Left High & Dry: 6 Things You May Have Missed: Climate impacts will leave us high and dry; and this may be sooner than you think. As we write, Taiwan is battling its worst drought in half a century, triggering worries across the global electronics sector. Impacts are inter-linked but they are not always obvious so this month we walk you through 6 things you may have missed – from clustered water risks in the ICT sector, melting sovereign risk ratings to hidden emissions from bottom trawling and a new fashion index that ranks brands. Also, see how young Hong Kongers react to their “real water usage” and find out why water, feeling old and unloved, is desperate for a multi-billion dollar makeover.
Taiwan produces over 90% of the world’s advanced chips. And making chips is water-intensive. So can drought afflicted Taiwan manage water to save global electronics? What about TSMC – is it doing enough? We unpack how different water risks could strand the sector; plus lacklustre government actions are not helping. Find out what this means for the global supply chain and our high-tech future.
Should we put all our eggs in one region? This would be unwise as water & climate risks are locational and so it pays to get on top of vulnerable and safe regions.
Sovereign risk ratings that factor in climate impacts could also help discern this. Indeed, there is broad agreement across the financial sector that climate impacts will shift ratings. 63 countries will suffer climate-induced rating downgrades according to Dr Klusak, Dr Agarwala, Burke, Dr Kraemer, & Dr Mohaddes. Which countries are more at risk? Will decarbonisation alleviate the impacts? Check out their key findings from the world’s first climate smart sovereign rating simulation.
These sectoral and locational risks are not going away; if anything, they are only getting worse. While it was good to see US pledge more aggressive carbon cuts yesterday, we have already baked-in impacts. For the first time in history, CO2 concentration has surpassed 420ppm – the last time we were at 400+ppm was in the Pliocene when sea levels were 25m higher!
Also, we are realising “new sources” of emissions that we will have to deal with. Who knew that bottom trawling released more emissions than global aviation. The ocean floor is the world’s largest carbon storehouse and we clearly need to leave our seabeds undisturbed. Green Queen’s Sally Ho shares key takeaways from a first-of-its-kind study on how to fish without accelerating warming whilst ensuring food security.
Fashion is also another polluting industry – both in terms of carbon as well as water. We have covered dirty thirsty fashion for a long time and we are pleased to see that the Business of Fashion (BoF) has launched an inaugural index to measure brand performance on sustainability. We talked to BoF’s Sarah Kent who spearheaded the index on the why, how and what’s next for the index.
While poor data and patchy disclosure was a challenge, it’s a good start and CWR is pleased to sit on the council that helped shape the benchmarking metrics. 15 of the largest fashion companies were scored against 16 ambitious targets – buy your clothes wisely, see how Nike, Adidas, H&M, Zara, LVMH and Kering fared.
But tools do not need to be sophisticated to make an impact. There are simple, everyday tools that we can use to rein in and manage our water use. CWR’s intern, Alexandra Murray-Tacon, invited five of her friends to join her on a journey to discover their water usage. See why they are shocked here as they ponder their next steps.
We all take water for granted. Many of us are lulled into thinking that water is a “poor” country issue. But it is not – a new class of “water poor” is developing in rich countries as we leave our water infrastructure neglected & “un-loved’. 12% of California’s public water systems “consistently fail to meet primary drinking water standards” and over in England, there were 400,000+ incidents of raw sewage discharge into water bodies last year. Having a dip in England suddenly doesn’t sound so refreshing – how is this really different to open defecation issues in India’s rivers?
Biden’s infrastructure plan is a start – calling for US$111bn to fix water issues. But much more is needed in the US and around the world as ageing dams and failing infrastructure adds to water risk. See why CWR’s Tan thinks there is no time for complacency; urgent multi-billion dollar water makeovers are needed if we are to avoid being left high and dry.
We will all have common water challenges especially when climate change pushes out the extremes in water management. Since there is no running away from it, we might as well embrace it. We will need lots and lots of money so bankers should be salivating by now. It’s time to give water some love.
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