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Almost £8B Of UK Property Assets At Risk From Impact Of Climate Change

Satellite view of Hurricane Harvey

Property assets in the UK with a value of more than $10B (£7.7B) are at risk of seeing significant value destruction as a result of the impact of climate change, according to a new report.

Financial data firm MSCI took a deep dive into real estate exposure to the effects of climate change in its report, Climate risk in private real estate portfolios: What’s the exposure?

MSCI took a look at almost 24,000 assets worth a combined $806B in five countries — the U.S., UK, Australia, South Africa and the Netherlands — and examined how exposed these assets are to the increase in extreme weather events that will likely be caused by climate change. About $350B of the assets are in the U.S., with around $250B in the UK.

In the UK, the biggest risk is flooding due to the increasing frequency and severity of heavy rain showers. MSCI found that about $10B of the UK assets it assessed carry a medium-to-high risk.

The area most exposed in the UK is the town of Reading, about 40 miles west of London, where just more than half of the $900M of assets assessed by MSCI carry a risk.

Assets in London have a lower risk, because of the protection provided by the Thames Barrier flood defence system.

But assets near the tributary rivers that flow into the Thames, which aren’t protected by the barrier, do carry more risk. That means the London borough of Lewisham is the riskiest in London, MSCI said. Of the assets in the borough, 14% of MSCI’s sample accounting for 35% of the capital value are at risk.

In the U.S. the biggest risk is hurricanes, and flooding from the storm surge caused by them.

MSCI found that $93B of U.S. real estate assets are at risk as a result of the probable increased frequency of Category 1 storms. Of these assets, $17B are at a high risk because of increased exposure to Category 3 storms. A further $7B of assets carry a high risk because of the storm surge caused by high winds, putting $24B of assets in total at high risk.

At a state level, New York had the largest absolute capital value exposure, most of it located in New York City, which represents half of the assets at risk. From a relative perspective, however, South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida all have higher percentages of total capital value at risk.

In New York, 38% of the assets assessed by MSCI are at risk, accounting for 30% of the capital value of the sample.

For a deep dive into sustainability and UK commercial property, come to Bisnow's London Building for the Future event on Thursday 30 October.