Mitigating Climate Risk: Advantages to PE Firms Pursuing Climate Risk Programs and Pitfalls to Avoid (Part One of Two)

In his now-famous letter, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink said, “climate risk is investment risk.” That sentiment reflects the growing consensus that climate change presents risks and opportunities that can significantly affect investments. Nonetheless, PE firms have historically faced challenges with assessing climate risks that seemed likely to manifest over longer-term horizons in a manner consistent with the shorter-term nature of their investments. That state of affairs is evolving, however, amid property damage and supply chain disruptions from catastrophic weather events; links between the coronavirus pandemic and a looming climate crisis; investor requests for climate information; and more widespread, flexible and efficient diligence options. In a two-part guest series, Kirkland & Ellis attorneys Alexandra N. Farmer and Jennie Morawetz outline why PE firms should adopt climate risk programs and key considerations in connection therewith. This first article discusses why and how PE firms are beginning to develop climate programs, as well as offering tips for avoiding reporting pitfalls. The second article will focus on practical features of a program focused on addressing physical climate risks, which many PE firms prioritize in the early stages of developing a climate program. See “A Guide to Pre- and Post-Investment ESG Considerations and Due Diligence” (May 7, 2019); and “Fund Managers Should Prepare for Further Disruption to the Industry or Risk Being Left Behind” (Jan. 10, 2019).

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