San Diego, Calif. -- The increase in weather-related disasters worldwide has helped galvanize attention on the need for climate change adaptation and risk mitigation projects in the public and private sector. A comprehensive new study by Environmental Business International, Inc., publisher of Climate Change Business Journal, details a $700-million U.S. and $2-billion global climate change adaptation services market and forecasts annual growth in the 12-20% range to 2020. Today’s market is led by consulting & engineering and specialty firms working primarily for government agencies in analysis, risk management and planning, but increasingly the market will tilt to project implementation and construction.
There are few assets in the world that will not be profoundly affected by climate change. Governments at the local, state, regional and national levels are in the midst of seriously considering the threat of climate change to public health and epidemiology, agriculture, power production, transportation, town planning, coastal protection, and water resources. Some have gone beyond serious consideration of these threats to detailed scenario analysis, planning, even initial design and construction of preventative measures.
EBI research identified scores of funded projects dedicated to adaptation analysis and experts concur that hundreds of others related to water resources and infrastructure with climate change adaptation as a key element are already tilting the competitive balance toward planning and project management firms with climate adaptation experience, if not a dedicated practice area.
"Companies with expertise in water security are on the front lines of addressing changing climate adaptation," said EBI President Grant Ferrier. "Several leading consultancies have cut their teeth in Australia and other countries where governments have been forced to come to terms with chronic water scarcity. And now they're bringing that expertise to Texas and parts of the United States hit hard by drought and extreme heat."
While academics, think tanks and government research entities may have done the bulk of published and promoted material about climate change adaptation to date, consulting & engineering firms in many cases however, are driving the conversation about climate change adaptation, often in the context of risk management when talking to clients in water and wastewater utilities, energy, land management and various levels of federal, state and local government.
In the private sector, the insurance industry is deeply invested in and engaged in the study of climate change and its fiscal impacts, but heretofore has mostly performed this work internally and most often confidentially, so notable outsourced engagements are not numerous. Industries first to be affected, like power, water and agriculture are producing early adopters investing time, resources and project dollars to assess their risks first, and in some cases prepare for numerous and still largely unpredictable, though many would say inevitable, outcomes.
EBI Report 4800: Climate Change Adaptation focuses on the emerging U.S. climate change adaptation industry and its prospects for global growth. While still in its early stages - that is the planning and studying stage - climate change adaptation presents large and sustained opportunities for expertise in analysis, risk sciences, planning, design, engineering, construction and other services.
Environmental consulting & engineering firms, specialty boutique firms and some architecture & engineering (A&E) firms and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors will be in the front lines of mitigating and preparing to cope with the impacts of climate change. However, once capital planning for adaptation turns into capital spending, the design and construction of adaptation measures will begin in earnest, and EBI predicts sustained and even higher growth rates driven by major construction projects including desalination plants, levees, sea walls, port reinforcements, relocations, diversions, and others.
"While there is a certain inevitability about climate change," said Ferrier, "there is also a certain inevitability about the emergence of a climate change adaptation industry…. No measure of planning done to date can completely prepare us for the circumstances we will face in the future. But as an old saying goes: 'Fortune favors the well prepared' and the fortunes of many will be lost or saved by effective adaptation planning."