The decision by Pacific Gas & Electric to cut electricity in specific fire-prone parts of Northern California last week brought to mind this article from The Wall Street Journal, which is hardly an alarmist publication when it comes to climate change, earlier this year: "PG&E: The First Climate-Change Bankruptcy, Probably Not the Last"
"PG&E Corp.’s bankruptcy could mark a business milestone: the first major corporate casualty of climate change. Few people expect it will be the last. California’s largest utility was overwhelmed by rapid climatic changes as a prolonged drought dried out much of the state and decimated forests, dramatically increasing the risk of fire. On Monday, PG&E said it planned to file for Chapter 11 protection by month’s end, citing an estimated $30 billion in liabilities and 750 lawsuits from wildfires potentially caused by its power lines. The company’s fall has been fast and steep. In October, its market value was $25 billion. This week, it was removed from the S&P 500 as its value tumbled below $4 billion and its shares fell to their lowest level since at least 1972.
"The PG&E bankruptcy could be a wake-up call for corporations, forcing them to expand how they think about climate-related risks, management consultants and other experts said. Previously, companies mainly worried over risks from new governmental regulations related to climate change, said Christophe Brognaux, a managing director at Boston Consulting Group. The PG&E case makes clear that companies also have to worry about sudden, and potentially unexpected, impacts to their core assets and liabilities, he added. 'Physical risks have only recently manifested themselves. This is a fairly new development,' said Bruce Usher, a professor at Columbia University’s business school who teaches a course on climate and finance. 'If you are not already considering extreme weather and other climatic events as one of many risk factors affecting business today, you are not doing your job.'
"J. Bennett Johnston, a former Democratic U.S. senator from Louisiana who has served on Chevron Corp. ’s board of directors, said the potential for climate change to damage company assets and cause a mushrooming of liabilities is an emerging enterprise risk. 'The business community, by and large, has gotten the message,' he said. 'You have to be pretty stupid not to see we’re in the midst of a climate crisis and it’s getting worse.'"
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