We ultimately chose nine cases to reflect these systems and based on their exposure to the extremes of climate change and their proximity today to key physiological, human-made, and ecological thresholds (Exhibit 1). As such, these cases represent leading-edge examples of climate change risk. Each case is specific to a geography and an exposed system, and thus is not representative of an “average” environment or level of risk across the world.
Our cases show that the direct risk from climate hazards is determined by the severity of the hazard and its likelihood, the exposure of various “stocks” of capital (people, physical capital, and natural capital) to these hazards, and the resilience of these stocks to the hazards (for example, the ability of physical assets to withstand flooding). We typically define the climate state today as the average conditions between 1998 and 2017, in 2030 as the average between 2021 and 2040, and in 2050 between 2041 and 2060. Through our case studies, we also assess the knock-on effects that could occur, for example to downstream sectors or consumers. We primarily rely on past examples and empirical estimates for this assessment of knock-on effects, which is likely not exhaustive given the complexities associated with socioeconomic systems. Through this “micro” approach, we offer decision makers a methodology by which to assess direct physical climate risk, its characteristics, and its potential knock-on impacts.
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