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January 2, 2018

Moody’s warns coastal communities: Prepare for climate change or face credit downgrade

Moody's Investor Service is telling coastal communities, including those in Maine, to adapt for climate change or face a credit downgrade.

WCSH6 reported that Moody's, one of the largest credit rating agencies, issued a report last month that said "the growing effects of climate change, including climbing global temperatures, and rising sea levels, are forecast to have an increasing economic impact on U.S. state and local issuers."

The credit rating agency uses six indicators to "assess the exposure and overall susceptibility of U.S. states to the physical effects of climate change": Three focus on coastal risks, such as rising sea levels and flooding, while the other three reflect increased frequency of extreme weather events like tornadoes, wildfires and storms, according to WCSH6.

Moody's report urges municipalities to become more proactive in preparing for the impacts stemming from climate change, warning that failing to do so will put them at risk of lower credit ratings, resulting in higher interest costs when they issue bonds to fund major infrastructure projects.

Officials in Wells told WCSH6 the community has been preparing for storm surges through measures like beach barriers and culvert upgrades. But Town Manager Jonathon Carter said Maine is lagging behind other states with beach protection preservation.

Business Insider reported in late November that Vanguard, the world's largest provider of mutual funds, is pushing companies to disclose the risks that climate change will pose to their business.

"To the extent there are significant risks to a company's long-term value proposition, we want to make sure there is a long-term disclosure of those risks to the market," Glenn Booraem of Vanguard's investment stewardship team told Business Insider.

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