An Overview of Climate Risks for Film and TV Producers.

No production is risk free.  While it’s impossible to completely stop things from happening, careful risk assessments can reduce the chance that when they do, they aren’t catastrophic. 

Climate change adds some additional layers of risk both to physical production, and to independent production companies. We’ve summarized a few of these risks below and there may be more as the crisis evolves. 

Health & Safety
At its core, climate change is a health & safety issue; it does physical and mental harm to people. Employers have a primary responsibility for the health & safety of all workers, and climate change should now be part of the risk assessment of every production. Risks include: extreme heat effects from hotter summer temperatures; low-air quality from smoke; extreme weather events, which are becoming more common, not to mention the additional mental stress this can have on people in general. It’s likely that many regions will experience increasing numbers of days each summer when it may be unsafe for workers to work outside (due to heat, or smoke). Producers should consider whether their production may be exposed to a higher likelihood of extreme weather, heat or air quality advisories, and prepare accordingly. 

Production Interruptions
Extreme environmental events not only impact our safety, they can easily derail a production for days or even months.  Productions that shoot outdoors or in areas prone to events such as forest fires, floods, and storms should assess the risks of such events during their production and ensure that production teams knows the appropriate emergency procedures. While it’s impossible for a producer to predict whether such events will occur, having a contingency plan for when they do is essential. 

Greenwashing and Reputational Risks
At this point in time, being a planet-friendly production or company can come with some reputational upsides for producers and artists.  However, if green-claims are not backed up with evidence or real actions, then producers and their shows could be exposed to accusations of ‘greenwashing’ (making unsubstantiated green claims).  Conversely there may be reputational risks associated with doing nothing, from buyers, talent and staff. 

Financial Risks & Compliance
There are financial costs associated with some sustainable practices and environmental events can create budget overruns (aka “climate overages”). There are also costs associated with increasing contractual sustainability requirements, some of which may be directly tied to triggering financial payments. Producers need to plan for financial exposures due to weather-events and account for new disclosure requirements in their business and productions.

Skill Shortages
As the need for productions to be sustainable increases, so does the need for qualified labour with sustainability skills that producers can hire. Producers can mitigate this by supporting professional development through unions and guilds, industry associations, or support professional development of existing staff.  Producers should assess which positions in their companies and productions would most benefit from green-skills and plan for additional training where required. 

As billion dollar disasters become more common, insurance companies are significantly impacted by climate change and as a result, insurance is already unaffordable in places in North America. Producers should carefully monitor changes in the insurance landscape and carefully consider uninsurable risks when shooting in zones where the prevalence and severity of extreme events are increasing.