While little action is expected from Congress on climate change, many businesses in Boston and beyond are taking matters into their own hands, preparing for a warmer world in which severe weather, rising sea levels, and increased flooding threaten property, operations, and earnings.
Developers have moved electrical units from the basements to rooftops of buildings in the Seaport District along Boston Harbor. Utilities in New England have elevated substations several feet above the ground and replaced wooden electrical poles with steel ones that can withstand powerful winds.
Insurance companies, in response to clients, are testing products designed to protect against varied effects of climate change, and providing more coverage against natural disasters. The Hartford insurance company now offers small businesses policies against losses due to widespread power outages, a growing concern as major storms occur more frequently.
“We think the time for debating [climate change] is over,” said Ed White, vice president of customer strategy and environmental for National Grid, a British company with its US headquarters in Waltham. “We see it occurring. We’ve lived through the flooding, we’ve seen the damage that it had to our communities and our equipment.”
Recent evidence has added to these worries. Earlier this month, a federal study warned that the climate in the United States was changing at a faster pace due to the burning of fossil fuels — such as oil, coal, and natural gas — that emit greenhouse gases blamed for rising global temperatures. That has resulted in longer droughts and more wildfires in the West, stronger hurricanes in the South, and degraded air quality in the Midwest, the study by a panel of scientists concluded.
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