The last few years have seen a visible uptick in the frequency of extreme weather events – a very real sign of the immediacy of the climate crisis. For Entela Benz-Saliasi, the CEO & co-founder of Intensel, the damage wrought by hurricanes and typhoons, wildfires and floods are the financial wakeup call that many in the business and political establishment need to address climate change.
“[Extreme weather] incidents are becoming more frequent and more severe, and the financial losses are getting bigger. You have about US$300 billion per year, and only four decades ago it was only around $80 billion. The forecasts are by 2030 the losses will increase to one trillion – a 300% increase.
She says that insurance against these types of weather events is extremely low. At the end of the day, taxpayers and corporations are paying from their own pockets. Climate risk has now become a systematic risk, repricing all the risk in the economy. That is the reason why regulators are pushing for disclosure on climate and potentially on uninsured expected losses.”
Intensel came out of this crisis, using climate data for predicting financial risks to help clients assess climate risk for building, insuring and financing a climate-resilient infrastructure. “it’s a heavy and complex science and the playground of only a few scientists and the insurance companies. We, at Intensel, are trying to make climate analytics simple and meaningful enough for companies to see and act on.”
“If we want investors to react, we have to make climate data visible to them – how much impact it has, what the consequences are in terms of risk, losses as well as opportunities. [Intensel] makes it tangible, so that’s the whole point of creating the company.” She says the technology has improved immensely in recent years. Even as recently as two or three years ago the technology wasn’t nearly as powerful as it is now.
“We can now predict and analyse climate risk in a comprehensive way. We use big data, AI, supercomputers, dynamic climate models and financial technology to simulate climate risk and then translate climate risk into a dollar value at risk related to climate.”
The company is striving to make the climate data it crunches accessible to all, allowing corporations and investors to see and understand the risks of under-addressing what many scientists, along with the World Economic Forum, consistently rank as one of the most pressing issues of our time. She says that working with that data has allowed her to see both the scale and urgency of what needs to be done.
“The impact is here long term, but we have to address it short term. If we don’t address it now, in five years we have to address it much more drastically, and more expensively. Now we have to cut carbon by seven percent per year if we want to achieve the Paris agreement, which is even beyond our reach, yet we [are] starting now.”
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