U.S. Climate Risk Committee: Official Statements

Leaders from across American political, business spectrum to assess economic risks of climate change, share findings with peers

San Francisco, CA – Members of the U.S. Climate Risk Committee for the Risky Business initiative today released the following statements about their participation in the initiative:

  • Henry Cisneros: “The risks we face from climate change have profound implications across the American economy, and could be particularly harmful to communities who have suffered from historic marginalization. We need to ensure we’re protecting the most vulnerable – and at the same time, we need our industries, particularly housing, urban infrastructure, and the finance community, to start paying closer attention to their climate risk exposure. Risky Business will help us quantify this exposure while providing a platform to engage Americans in a conversation about climate risk.”
  • Gregory Page: “America’s farmers are as iconic to our national identity as they are critical to our economy. They and the agriculture industry are already investing in technologies and crop varieties that we hope will give us the resilience we need to feed a growing world population. But technology alone can’t fix all of the risks farmers face from exposure to drought and other natural disasters to changes in water availability and climate. Risky Business seeks to quantify these risks and give farmers information to plan ahead.”
  • Robert Rubin: “Climate change is the overriding issue of our day. Increasingly powerful impacts are on track to profoundly affect us all. The question is when, not if. By developing a scientific and economic analysis of our exposure to climate risk, we seek to provide public and private sector decision-makers with the tools they need to respond to the threat of climate change. I look forward to contributing to this analysis and helping draw attention to this hugely important issue.”
  • Donna Shalala: “I think we all agree that, while climate change is a global issue, at the end of the day it’s going to be local and state governments that will have to be leading the charge on the response. But how will we know the appropriate level of response? How do we prepare for the inevitable threats to our health, our coastlines, and our emergency response infrastructure? What role should states be playing in ensuring we have adequate capacity in times of crisis? Risky Business will give us a roadmap of our exposure, which is the first step toward managing what is sure to be a significant problem in certain parts of the country.”
  • Olympia Snowe“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’s business leaders are more than up to the task, and will know what to do.”
  • Al Sommer“In the aftermath of the Chicago heat wave, when dead bodies were stored in freezer trucks because the morgues were full, we learned the hard way that our critical emergency services often don’t have the ‘surge’ capacity they need to handle extreme weather events. Well, guess what, climate change is going to bring more of these events, and we’re going to need this kind of capacity. Risky Business will give us a sense of where these events are most likely to have a large economic impact, which will enable us to start a conversation about being better prepared for the next time, and the time after that.”

Launched in October, 2013, Risky Business is a year-long effort to quantify and publicize the economic risks the United States faces from the impacts of a changing climate.

The Risky Business initiative includes two core components:

An independent assessment of the economic risk of climate change in the United States, drawing on the best available scientific information, econometric research and modeling efforts. The results, to be released in the summer of 2014, will detail risks by region of the country and sector of the economy.

An engagement effort will target the communities most at risk from a changing climate, and begin the process of helping leaders from these communities prepare a measured response to the risks they face. The engagement will be led by a risk committee composed of top national and regional leaders from across the American economic and political spectrum.

Risky Business is a joint initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Office of Hank Paulson, and Next Generation. All three organizations are providing staff input to the project, and are supporting an independent economic analysis that will quantify the range of likely costs of climate-driven impacts and weather disasters. Additional support for Risky Business was provided by the Skoll Global Threats Fund. Next Generation’s VP of Energy and Climate, Kate Gordon, serves as the Executive Director of the initiative.

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