Climate Change Listed as Risk to NY Bondholders

by | Mar 28, 2013

New York is warning investors that climate change poses a long-term risk to the state’s financial health, citing Hurricane Sandy and tropical storms Irene and Lee, which caused widespread damage and economic losses.

Climate change is now listed as a risk in the state’s bond offerings, alongside warnings about other hazards including unresolved litigation and potential cuts in federal spending, the New York Times reports.

The decision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Administration follows Hurricane Sandy, which caused more than $40 billion in damage in the state after it made landfall last year, according to Bloomberg News. New York may be the first US state to warn investors of the risk caused by climate change, such as rising sea levels, flooding and erosion, the news agency says.

Moody’s Investors Service vice president Emily Raimes told the New York Time more disclosure “is always a good thing.” However, most of the risk for local and state governments from severe storms is mitigated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which provides disaster aid for the cost of the immediate cleanup and rebuilding public infrastructure, she added.

Since Hurricane Sandy, Cuomo has repeatedly talked about the link between severe weather events and climate change. He mentioned climate change in his State of the State address in January as he announced a proposal to create a green bank to spur private investment in the clean economy.

Cuomo has taken other actions aimed at energy savings and preparing for more frequent weather events. Earlier this year, Cuomo issued an executive order directing state agencies to increase energy efficiency in state buildings by 20 percent in seven years.

A draft report released in January by the NYS 2100 Commission, one of four panels appointed by Cuomo in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, has proposed a number of changes to protect the area from future super storms that could affect utilities, railways, wastewater treatment and the state’s shoreline.

Developers also are rethinking how they design buildings in New York City, following Hurricane Sandy, which sent rising water rushing over embankments and into the basements of residential buildings. Developers of several residential buildings are working with engineers and construction crews to make design changes, such as installing mechanical equipment on the upper floors, as well as adding protective measures, including floodgates and backup generators.

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