This is another story about a group of business leaders who have gotten together to try to do something about climate change, since our government can’t move on the issue due to the numerous cash-filled fossil fuel industry hands stuffing their pockets that are holding them back.
Before you roll your eyes and click on, check out who is on the committee. The group, called the Risky Business initiative is co-chaired by its three founders: former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer.
Also on the Risk Committee are various former CEOs, senators, and cabinet secretaries, including Robert Rubin, Olympia Snowe, Henry Cisneros, and George Schultz. The group will provide and review assessments, deliver messaging and share the results with those regions industries and markets facing the greatest risk from the crisis.
Each of the three founders will bring along their respective foundations: Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Office of Hank Paulson, and Next Generation, as well as the Skoll Global Threats Fund, to provide staff and support for the project.
“How much economic risk does the United States face from the impacts of climate change?” asks the group’s website. “Risky Business will help us find out.”
The year-long initiative will do its assessment, deliver the pertinent messages and then move on.
Says Tom Steyer, retired founder of Farallon Capital, “If the business of the United States is business, we need to frame climate change in economic language; we need to set the business context.” And that’s exactly what the initiative has set out to do through a two-pronged effort of assessment and engagement.
The independent assessment work will combine existing data on the expected impacts of climate with original research on the projected financial costs. This information then will be used to drive informed decision-making on the part of business leaders from those sectors most likely to be impacted.
Kate Gordon, executive director of Risky Business and Vice President of the Energy and Climate program at Next Generation feels that the real strength of the initiative lies in its regional approach.
“Energy and climate are inherently regional issues, and most regions of the U.S. lack a good quantitative analysis of the risks they face from catastrophic climate change,” she said. “Our Risk Committee members bring an enormously valuable perspective to this challenge –they’re familiar with the proper role of risk assessment in decision making from their own illustrious careers, and they represent a diversity of American industries and geographies.”
One of those committee members, former Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, sums the group’s work up thusly, “The risks of climate change are incredibly uneven across the American economy. We need to make sure that the best science from our National Climate Assessment is presented in a way that brings practical intelligence about the risks to the business community – and that’s what Risky Business is setting out to do. I’m confident that, when presented with a just-the-facts analysis of the economic risks we face, America’R business leaders are more than up to the task, and will know what to do.”
There are those who feel that the best way to tackle this enormous issue is for citizens and government to do an end-run around the business community. But, romantic notions aside, I believe our best hope lies in focusing our enormously powerful economic engine in a manner that is both productive and constructive to the task of meeting our material and energy needs within the boundaries that our natural systems have provided.
RP Siegel, PE, is an inventor, consultant and author. He writes for numerous publications including Justmeans, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, and Energy Viewpoints. He co-wrote the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water in an exciting and entertaining romp that is currently being adapted for the big screen. Now available on Kindle. Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.