Risky Business

US REPORT PREDICTS ECONOMIC RISKS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 26 June 2014

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

  

A new report from a team including ex-New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer and former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson underlines the ‘significant and widespread disruptions’ that will hit the American economy if businesses and policymakers don’t take immediate action to reduce climate risk.

The report, ‘Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States‘, summarises the findings of a group of scientists, former cabinet officers, lawmakers and corporates. Gregory Page, executive chairman of agribusiness giant Cargill Inc., is also a Risky Business committee member.

Risky Business shows that communities, industries and properties across the US face profound risks from climate change, and that early investment in resilience, along with immediate action to reduce global warming, are necessary in order to avoid the most severe risks.

The cost of inaction

The estimated financial impact of changes in local climates across the United States is based on independent risk assessments from Rhodium Group, an economic research firm that analyses disruptive global trends, and Risk Management Solutions, the world’s largest catastrophe-modelling company for re-insurance and investment management firms.

‘Damages from storms, flooding, and heat waves are already costing local economies billions of dollars – we saw that firsthand in New York City with Hurricane Sandy’, said Michael R. Bloomberg. ‘With the oceans rising and the climate changing, the Risky Business report details the costs of inaction in ways that are easy to understand in dollars and cents – and impossible to ignore.’

Regional impacts

According to the report, two of the primary impacts of climate change — extreme heat and sea level rise — will disproportionately affect certain areas of the US and pose highly variable risks across the nation.

It concludes that in the US Gulf Coast, Northeast and Southeast, rising sea levels and increased damage from storm surges are likely to lead to an additional $2 to $3.5 billion in property losses each year by 2030, with escalating costs in future decades.

In interior states in the Midwest and Southwest, extreme heat is expected to threaten health, reduce labour productivity and strain electricity grids.

The report suggests winter temperatures will likely rise in northern latitudes such as North Dakota and Montana, reducing frost events and cold-related deaths, and lengthening the growing season for some crops.

For more information on the Risky Business Project and more details from its report, have a look at riskybusiness.org.

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