Climate change could cause water shortages, more natural disasters, and more outbreaks of tropical diseases, some of the world’s biggest corporations predict.
Water shortages “could limit water availability for the Coca-Cola system’s bottling operations,” the beverage giant worries.
Intel also has concerns. Manufacturing computers without access to water may “lead to increased operational costs” the computer company wrote in filings. And Disney predicts that hotter summers and colder winters will deter people from visiting its theme parks.
“If measures are not taken to ensure low cost alternatives for cooling and managing extreme temperatures, this will not only negatively impact our customers’ experience, it will also impact our ability to attract and retain visitor numbers,” Disney wrote.
Those corporate disclosures come courtesy of CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, a think-tank based in the United Kingdom that lobbies corporations to prepare for climate change.
CDP asked thousands of major corporations to file written submissions about their plans to deal with climate change. Nearly 7,000 companies responded.
That’s a marked improvement from 2013, when only 4,500 corporations chose to respond. CDP says that the higher response rate reflects “increased corporate transparency and measurement of environmental action across the board.”
Corporate America coming to grips with climate change
Bloomberg News reviewed 25 of the filings that American companies sent to the CDP. The publication found that in the vast majority of the filings, Corporate America understands that global warming is a real phenomenon and is preparing for disaster.
Some corporations are optimistic that they can profit from ecological catastrophe. Pharmaceutical giant Merck, for instance, predicts that drugs designed to treat tropical diseases will find a bigger market as more people get sick.
“As the climate changes, there will be expanded markets for products for tropical and weather related diseases including waterborne illness,” the company wrote.
Home Depot is also optimistic, anticipating that more people will need ceiling fans and air conditioners “should temperatures increase over time."
And Apple says that its iPhones can double as first-aid devices in major emergencies. The company wrote that iPhones can “serve as a flashlight or a siren; they can provide first aid instructions; they can act as a radio; and they can be charged for many days via car batteries or even hand cranks.”
Of course, using the iPhone’s data under such conditions may be a problem. AT&T predicts that storms will knock out cell towers and damage its equipment. The carrier spent over $600 million in 2017 to repair equipment that was hit by natural disasters.