Emma Raven is head of research and development at JBA Risk Management, a catastrophe modelling firm specialising in flood risk.
A warming climate is virtually guaranteed to increase the incidence of flooding, so understanding this risk is vital to the work of insurers as well as governments and other industries.
In recent years, she has focused on exploring the impact of climate change within flood risk modelling. Led by Raven, JBA was one of the first companies to bridge the gap between climate science and the insurance industry leading to the development of the UK's first Climate Change Flood Model.
She remains at the forefront of an ongoing programme to develop new tools that will help with climate change flood risk preparation and resilience on a global scale.
Alongside developing analytics tools and data, Emma is passionate about working and sharing with the academic community. She has facilitated several research collaborations, bringing together academic climate expertise with JBA's industry knowledge to explore this challenging topic.
What inspired you to work on climate change issues?
I've been researching climate change, extremes and flood risk for 20 years starting with my university degree, during my PhD and now through my career with JBA.
I'm a very outdoor person and have always loved learning about our environment. It's been brilliant to lead and be part of the team that developed the first UK Climate Change Flood Model, and to continue to work on projects overcoming many of the challenges faced when incorporating climate change into industry data and models.
What are your work priorities right now?
Developing new climate change analytics to support understanding and decision making in a changing climate is one of our top priorities. I lead JBA's R&D so unsurprisingly, much of my time is spent working on our climate change programme - which is great because it is fascinating and rewarding.
Tell me one step the insurance industry needs to take, to improve its response to climate change?
Climate change is likely to change the frequency and severity of flood risk. One step that insurance companies can take is to quantify risk to their portfolio under potential future climate scenarios.
In doing so, businesses can not only understand the change in risk that they might face, but they can develop strategies to mitigate that risk.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic we can avoid the worst effects of climate change?
I consider myself an optimist but when it comes to climate change, I very much sit on the fence. When you work with climate projections and are exploring the potential impacts on flood risk, it's hard not to worry about what the future might hold and how severe those impacts might be.
My positive side hopes that with an ever-increasing awareness about climate change, governments, society and individuals can make changes, reduce the impacts and adapt.
What are you doing personally to reduce your climate impact?
The first, is educating myself, my children, family and friends. I have become increasingly knowledgeable and aware of how my family's lifestyle contributes to carbon emissions and how to become carbon neutral.
More importantly, we are acting on what I have learned. As a family, we have made many changes that have just become part of our life now (e.g. reducing energy consumption, staycations). I've also started to make changes to support climate conscious companies and avoid offenders (e.g. changing to a green energy supplier). Even the smallest and easiest changes add up and can make a difference.