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This AI platform tracks corporate climate risks around the world

The new tool from Cervest shows physical risks such as floods or droughts that have happened historically and then predicts what will happen over the next 80 years.

This AI platform tracks corporate climate risks around the world
[Photo: Armastas/iStock, andrej67/iStock]
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For a large company—say, a hotel chain with thousands of properties in multiple countries—it’s challenging to track all your potential risks from climate change. Some properties might be at risk from flooding as the sea level rises. Others might be at risk from wildfires. As conditions change, the risks will also keep changing.

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A new platform, now in testing with 20 corporations, uses artificial intelligence to continually track those risks. “If you want to find out the price of a stock, you can get it in seconds,” says Iggy Bassi, founder and CEO of Cervest, the startup that created the platform. “Why can’t you get that for your climate risk?” The company just announced a $30 million Series A round led by Draper Esprit.

[Screenshot: Cervest]
In the platform, companies can map out their assets, from office buildings and warehouses to data centers, as well as key parts of their supply chain, such as factories. The tool, called EarthScan, shows physical risks such as floods or droughts that have happened historically, and then predicts what will happen over the next 80 years. It’s possible to see how faster climate action will affect those impacts. “You can say, what’s going to happen in a Paris-aligned world to my assets from a physical-risk point of view? What’s going to happen in a business-as-usual scenario, or some sort of middle ground?” he says.

[Screenshot: Cervest]
The company’s modeling pulls in data about how the natural world is changing. “If you’re very close to the forest, for instance, and the rate of deforestation changes radically, your probability of flooding will radically change as well,” Bassi says. Deforestation might also change local rainfall patterns so significantly that a factory no longer has a reliable water source and may need to relocate.

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The tool helps companies identify the highest risks so they can strategically choose where to intervene and target action. While some other platforms do similar modeling, Cervest says it wants to make the data more accessible—banks, investors, and regulators will also be able to see the risks that a specific company faces. “We fundamentally believe there should be mass intelligence for everybody as fast as possible,” he says. “And we want people to start having conversations by looking at each other’s assets.”

[Screenshot: Cervest]
For the next few months, the startup will work closely with the companies that are testing the platform. (It is also expanding the locations covered—right now, it includes data and models for the U.S., U.K., and Europe, but it will eventually cover the globe.) Later in the year, it will open up to everyone. Anyone will be able to use it to analyze the risks for a handful of locations for free—and companies will have to pay to look at everything they own. It’s the type of work that soon may be required by regulators; in the U.S., the SEC is currently studying the possibility of mandatory climate disclosures, for example. “There are going to be thousands and thousands of companies around the world who will need to understand their asset-level footprint very, very quickly,” Bassi says.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."

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