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Climate change: Acting early costs less than doing nothing

At Landmark, we believe climate change should be at the forefront of the property and real estate industry. It should influence our decisions and lead our innovations, and we should be part of the global movement to save the planet.  

Our first step was to Pledge to Net Zero – the first UK property data business to do so. Then we gathered for conversations with experts rethinking the property landscape for a better future. 

To push our community forward, we shared our learnings in ​​Climate Change Reports: The New Frontier of Real Estate Due Diligence, a paper that explores how the property and real estate industry is working to build a better planet. 

It’s not just about the ice caps 

One of the most talked about elements of climate change is flooding – and it has been since it was called global warming and the ice caps were the focal point, back in the 1980s. We wanted to make sure our understanding of flood risk was up to the minute, so we spoke with Dr Emma Raven, Climate Change Technical Lead, JBA Risk Management. 

“Flood remains the key physical risk to property in the UK,” she explained. “As a new raft of climate change data and tools are becoming an essential part of decision making across the financial and property sectors – as well as a regulatory requirement – it’s incredibly important that flooding risk data appears in climate change reports.” 

The great flood risk 

Based on JBA’s recently updated UK Flood Model1, 1 in 4 UK residential properties are estimated to be at flood risk, with average annual losses estimated at £527m, rising to £1.9bn without the mitigating effects of flood defences. And given the expectation for wetter winters and drier summers in a changing climate, the frequency and severity of surface water flooding, particularly in urban areas, is only going to worsen. 

“Recent findings from JBA’s UK Flood Model, which now includes two climate scenarios representing intermediate and unmitigated warming by 2050, suggests the UK could see a hike of up to 87% in average annual losses to residential properties and the cost of a 200-year flood event escalate by 42% to £5bn by the middle of the century if there is no action to reduce emissions.” 

We need to act now 

With increasing risk comes an increased need for awareness – and that starts with consistent and joined-up reporting, Emma argues. Despite the lack of a unified single approach to reporting at the current time, the property industry is recognising the cost of doing nothing will be greater than the cost of acting early. Now, property and modelling companies are on a steep learning curve; it is imperative they work together, alongside the academic community and the regulators to translate the climate science into useable data that is fit for purpose, citing quality, detail, continuous updates and validity through peer reviews as markers of data quality. 

“With different modelling firms adopting different methods and using different input data sets, users of climate change property-data should be prepared for a wide range of views on what the flood risk might be. This makes it crucial to understand both methods and sources of uncertainty.” 

You can read Emma’s full exploration of flood risk in our paper. It’ll help you understand those methods and work through any uncertainty, giving you a clearer idea of what’s happening and where climate change reporting is heading, so you and your organisation can respond effectively to the climate realities facing the industry. 

Read the executive summary of the white paper here:

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