Saturday, April 18, 2015

What is the Role for Business in Addressing Climate Change?

Climate Change’s Bottom Line (Burt Helm, New York Times, Jan. 31, 2015)

Also discussed here: RISKY BUSINESS: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States (56 page pdf, Risky Business Project, Jun. 2014)

And here: Heat in the Heartland: Climate Change and Economic Risk in the Midwest (58 page pdf, Risky Business Project, Jan. 23, 2015)

And here: Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change (662 page pdf, Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, Oct. 30, 2006)

Today we review the work of the “Risky Business Project” which was formed by a group of high level business and political leaders in the USA who wish to examine the probably outcomes of continued inaction on climate change by their country (and the world) while calling for the need to adapt to and minimize those changes. Unlike most environmental issues which have been addressed by going to government action from problem identification, research and policy based on scientific evidence, climate change has been portrayed as an attack on personal liberty through increased government control, camouflaged as denial of the science.

The Risky Business project aims to swing the consensus in the USA from a debate on the science to a consensus based on evidence of economic impacts focused on regional assessments and both on the short and long term. A report similar to the Stern report for the UK estimates $15.8B economic impacts for the USA by 2100. If the Project succeeds in showing how climate change hits the pocket book and business profits, maybe we’ll see that long delayed and necessary action by
  business, the public sector and government. climatic extremes and the new normal  

Key Quotes:

“Our goal with the Risky Business Project is not to confront the doubters. Rather, it is to bring American business and government—doubters and believers alike—together to look squarely at the potential risks posed by climate change, and to consider whether it’s time to take out an insurance policy of our own.”

“When looking at climate change, it’s particularly important to consider the outlier events and not just the most likely scenarios. Indeed, the “outlier” 1-in-100 year event today will become the 1-in-10 year event as the Earth continues to warm. Put another way, over time the extremes will become the “new normal.”

“Our research combines peer-reviewed climate science projections through the year 2100 with empirically-derived estimates of the impact of projected changes in temperature, precipitation, sea levels, and storm activity on the U.S. economy”

 “I think it’s the existential threat of our day…Once you see it as having catastrophic impact, any economic argument follows that, because you’re not going to have an economy.”

 “Climate change would increase energy demand in Texas by between 3.4 and 9.2 percent by midcentury. Crop yields in Missouri and Illinois would face a 15 percent decline over the next 25 years. And in the Northeast, annual property damage from severe storms — from hurricanes to blizzards — would likely increase $11.1 billion, to a total of $15.8 billion by the end of the century.”

 “The whole point of all of this is that it can be mitigated…The enemies of what we’re trying to do are short-termism and a sense of hopelessness. But if we act soon we can avoid the worst outcomes and adapt.” “Congress tends not to act until the broad mainstream, including business, is aboard.”

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