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Practical Magic

The climate risk analytics software scene is expanding

Well-funded Jupiter Intelligence expands climate change risk metrics, while the venerable Accuweather launches new service.

ClimateScore Global

ClimateScore Global is intended for businesses, municipalities and other organizations that are trying to get a grip on how climate change might affect a wide range of concerns. Image courtesy of Jupiter Intelligence

This article was adapted from Climate Tech Weekly, a free newsletter focused on climate technologies.

The field of climate risk analytics and intelligence is getting more crowded. Last week, one of the oldest weather forecasting services in the U.S., AccuWeather, introduced its own take on these sorts of services, ClimateReady Risk Mitigation.

Like the other offerings in this space, ClimateReady is intended for businesses, municipalities and other organizations that are trying to get a grip on how climate change might affect a wide range of concerns — from human health and safety considerations to physical infrastructure including buildings, bridges and so forth to supply chain resilience.

The idea is that businesses or government agencies can use climate risk services to get a sense of the dangers to existing infrastructure from many climate threats including temperature fluctuations, wind and wildfire conditions, water shortages and quality, floods and so on. They could also be useful for assessing the viability of infrastructure plans or development project proposals, based on the proposed location.

For manufacturing companies, a tool of this sort might be used to consider threats related to certain site decisions or supply chain locations. A bank might use these analytics to consider financing proposals, and an insurance firm might call upon this data when considering the terms of policies. 

Here’s the requisite statement from the AccuWeather executive in charge of selling the new service, Paul Bridge: "The catastrophic impacts of climate change represent multiple threads to our way of life and will dramatically alter business models, stakeholder expectations and performance for the foreseeable future. Now more than ever, businesses are focused on that risk, as are their employees, customers, shareholders and other stakeholders, but most lack the expert insight required to interpret that risk on their business and activities or even know where to start."

Getting the stuff right matters.

I predict AccuWeather will encounter plenty of competition from both respected entrepreneurial ventures — the best-known of which include Jupiter Intelligence and Gro Intelligence — as well as from the biggest of the big ESG ratings services such as S&P Global and Moody’s, which have been snapping up smaller companies at a furious pace. S&P, for example, bought five-year-old North Carolina startup The Climate Service in early January.

Jupiter, based in San Mateo, California, markets itself as the "global leader in climate analytics for resilience and risk management." And it definitely has picked up some pretty impressive customers.

At the time of its $54 million Series C funding in October — it has raised $100 million in total — Jupiter had more than 30 accounts, including government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development. It doesn’t name many of its business clients, although they include Hawaiian Electric, ConEdison, Liberty Insurance, Zurich Insurance Group and MS&AD Insurance Group. There are also a number of other Fortune 2000 companies in the mix including top banks, accounting firms, a top pharmaceutical organization and a global chemical company, according to Jupiter CEO Rich Sorkin.

Companies can use Jupiter’s flagship ClimateScore to consider the physical impact of what Sorkin calls "climate pollution." Its cloud-based service covers 41 metrics in total — and those with subscriptions can access more than 150 trillion data fields gathered from government databases, satellite observations and other sources and models. Subscription pricing ranges from $25,000 to multimillion-dollar contracts, Sorkin said. "Getting the stuff right matters," he said.

According to Sorkin, Jupiter is seeing a big uptick in interest. In January, it expanded the "peril metrics" that ClimateScore Global covers to include ones that predict physical risk associated with extreme cold and local water stresses. The former, for example, predicts the number of days that a region might expect to encounter days below 0 degrees Celsius and minus-10C. The latter quantifies the ratio of demand for water compared with supply over time. Both metrics were requested by existing and potential customers. Generally, the company considers data related to "really economically significant issues that have profound implications on average people." 

One inspiration for these additions was the Texas cold snap and electric grid failure last February. "Since that happened, most power companies have begun asking about extreme heat and extreme cold in a different way," Sorkin told me when we chatted last week. He also expects the new metrics to be particularly appealing for electronics companies and food and beverage businesses, both on Jupiter’s list of industries in which it would like to see customer expansion.

Aside from its own subscriptions, Jupiter has aligned with several companies in the climate consulting space, which could help it snag more corporate accounts: Two of its named partners are Guidehouse and PwC UK, both of which use Jupiter data with their clients.

Another development to watch is a pledge Jupiter made in late 2021 to provide its data "at little or not cost" to underserved countries and communities that stand to lose the most from climate change. The first NGO it’s working with is the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, through which it will provide services to chief heat officers in Freetown (in Sierra Leone), Athens and Miami. The goal is to reach 20 percent of the world’s population through at least 20 additional NGO relationships by the end of 2023. 

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