Seed maker DuPont Co., wind-turbine manufacturer General Electric Co. and insurer Zurich Financial Services AG are devising products to help the world adapt to climate change, a potential $135 billion-a-year market by 2030.
The companies are driven in part by the failure of international efforts to cut the greenhouse gases that scientists say contribute to global warming. Discussions last year in Copenhagen yielded little progress, and officials leading more than 190 countries in talks that begin today in Cancun, Mexico, say they don't expect to achieve a binding agreement on measures to slow the growth of emissions.
Damages from climate-related disasters are mounting. Insured losses from storms and floods have risen more than fivefold to $27 billion annually in the past four decades, Swiss Reinsurance Co. said in a September report. By 2030, the world may need to spend $135 billion a year on flood protection, buildings that can withstand hurricanes and drought-resistant crops, Swiss Re said, citing United Nations data.
Adaptation strategies, such as rewarding farmers for taking extra steps to prevent erosion on vulnerable land, will help Starbucks prepare, Hanna said.
Richer, Poorer Nations
Relatively rich nations such as the U.S. are devoting more attention and resources to adaptation and are negotiating a fund to help poorer countries cope with the higher sea levels, droughts, heat waves, more severe storms and erratic weather predicted by climate scientists.
Crops better able to resist drought can help DuPont expand its $8.2 billion agriculture business, according to Jim Borel, vice president in charge of seed operations for the Wilmington, Delaware-based company, the world's second-biggest seed maker behind Monsanto Co.
Zurich is offering policies letting businesses and homeowners replace storm-damaged property with structures better able to withstand extreme weather, said Lindene Patton, chief climate-protection officer for the Zurich-based insurer.
The Cancun climate talks through Dec. 10, led by Figueres, will seek incremental steps after the failure in 2009 at meetings in Copenhagen to agree on a new binding international accord to cut heat-trapping greenhouse-gas pollution.
U.S. vs China
While China looks like it will incorporate its Copenhagen pledges into domestic law next year, the situation in the U.S. is "difficult" at the moment after elections earlier in the month changed the composition of Congress, said Artur Runge- Metzger, lead negotiator for the 27-nation European Union.
Even if nations were to implement ambitious emissions cuts now, some climate-change effects are unavoidable because of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, the Arlington, Virginia-based Pew Center on Global Climate Change said in an August report.