Climate Risk Contributes Growing Portion of Revenues from Environmental Impact Assessments

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News Release -- San Diego, Calif. -- Environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and related studies represent about $2 billion of the $29 billion in revenues generated by the U.S. environĀ¬mental consulting & engineering industry, according to Environmental Business International Inc., publisher of Climate Change Business Journal.

In its third quarter edition on Climate Change in Environmental Impact Assessments, CCBJ estimates that greenhouse gas (GHG) and climate risk analyses contribute a small but growing portion of EIA revenues on the order of $30-40 million in the United States.

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"Climate change has become a small but important part of environmental impact assessments in Europe, California, New York and elsewhere in the United States where federal NEPA is triggered-as well as in developing countries when international investors and lenders are backing a project," said CCBJ Senior Editor Jim Hight. Greenhouse gas analyses are most common, but climate risk assessments and adaptation strategies are slowly becoming an element of more EIAs globally.

Environmental executives interviewed by CCBJ estimated fees for GHG analyses at $20,000 to $25,000 for commercial, industrial, institutional or residential projects and upwards of $40,000 to $80,000 for an upstream oil and gas project.

Although, except for California and New York, most other states with climate policies such as Oregon and Maryland have no requirement to assess GHGs as a component of environmental reviews, executives interviewed for this edition said they see a positive trend generally toward more inclusion of GHGs in EIAs.

In California, analyzing how climate change impacts like sea level rise may threaten a project in the decades ahead is not yet required. Lacking specific climate change regulatory guidance, "the extent to which prudence or guidance leads a project sponsor to ask its EIA consultant to assess climate risks like flooding, storms or drought depends on the size, sensitivity and public profile of the project," noted Hight. "More robust climate risk assessments in EIAs are most likely for big infrastructure projects that will be in place for a long time such as roads and rail infrastructure."

In Europe, consideration of climate change risks in EIAs is growing, most recently in response to the European Union's 2014 EIA Directive. "The EIA Directive will create the need for a service that is now generally optional," noted one executive. "It will be a requirement that people have to think about, as opposed to being something that some people address because of their project's location or public profile."

As climate change risk assessment and adaptation continue to work their way up the ladder of risks a project sponsor or government agency must consider, John Philipsborn, director of climate adaptation practice and environment in the Americas for AECOM, forecast that these kinds of assessments will become standard.

This edition of CCBJ explores the quickly evolving regulatory drivers to incorporate climate change in EIAs with special attention on California, New York, the United Kingdom and projects under federal NEPA jurisdiction. Companies profiled or interviewed in this edition include SCS Engineers, Environmental Sciences Associates, Golder Associates, TRC Companies, AECOM, Environ, and CH2M Hill.

See TOC and Purchase Climate Change in Environmental Impact Assessments edition for $250

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