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Climate change is a risk worth considering


WHEN LORD PETER LEVENE speaks, people tend to listen. And what the Lloyd's of London chairman had to say in Tokyo last week about how businesses should respond to climate risk deserves to be heeded.

Lord Levene said the threat of climate change needs to be an integral part of every company's risk analysis. While there remain legitimate disputes over what is causing climate change, how significant such change will prove to be and what ought to be done about it, there is a growing consensus that change is occurring. Lord Levene's call for companies to take climate change into account when performing risk analysis represents sound risk management advice.

It also serves to underscore a basic fact of risk management life. The idea that an industry leader would include climate change as a risk worth considering in a basic risk analysis would have been almost unthinkable even a decade ago. Lord Levene's inclusion of climate change as an issue risk managers should address as they carry out their duties comes as a reminder that risk is dynamic.

Risks few thought of only a few years ago--climate change, bioterrorism, pandemic influenza--can become a critical factor in mapping out an enterprise's risk profile, just as risks that few consider today may well be key considerations only a few years hence.