On January 23, the Risky Business Project, a group founded by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson and Tom Steyer, to discuss the business costs of climate inaction released a new report, “Heat in the Heartland.” Following the 2014 report on the business costs of climate to the United States, this report focuses specifically on the risks climate change poses to ten cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri.  It finds that climate change will impact wide-ranging sectors of the Midwest economy; its winter sports and tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing as well as worker welfare and productivity.

The Midwest is home to 20 percent of U.S. population, but plays a large role in manufacturing, energy and agriculture production.  While Midwest the is overall less-energy efficient than other states, emitting 22 percent more greenhouse gases than the national average, the region has an equally large role to play in reducing greenhouse gases.  With abundant wind, sun and biomass resources, the region plays a critical role in developing the full suite of renewable resources in the United States.  Additionally, it plays an outsized role in feeding the United States, and increasingly, the world.  Currently, the Midwest grows 65 percent of the U.S. corn and soybean crop.  And while the authors praise the climate adaptive measures already being undertaken by farmers and producers, they stress just how much more needs to be done.

Overall, the report finds that due to rising temperatures, the Midwest will suffer increases in heat-related deaths, energy costs and declines in worker productivity.  Over the next 25 years, warmer winters are projected to bring massive crop losses, up to 24 percent in some states.  According to the report, under a “business as usual” scenario, Illinois is projected to lose as much as $2.6 billion from its economy by 2020, and Iowa could see economic losses as high as $12 billion per year by the end of the century.  The southernmost state in the Midwest, Missouri, could see losses of up to 90 percent of its corn crop by the end of the century if climate change is not abated.

At a press release on Friday, the founders of the Risky Business Project stated that their work aims to bridge the gap between climate science and the business world, framing the risks and responses in a business-oriented manner.  According to Chris Davis, director of investor programs at Ceres, a non-profit sustainable business initiative,”This [report] makes the business case that we should take preventative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent some of the bad outcomes outlined in this report."




For more information see: 

Bloomberg, Paulson and Steyer release bipartisan report on climate change risks to Midwest, E&E News

Business-minded forecast sees climate as threat to Minnesota jobs and culture, MinnPost

Heat in the Heartland, Risky Business