With mid-term U.S. elections less than two months away, I have been scanning the news eagerly to locate any references to the significant Risky Business Project report on climate change released in June. I wondered if the report’s critical findings have stoked any passionate fires within any elected officials or their opponents. Alas, political contests this year don’t seem to rest on the future of our country – or any of its political districts – as far as the effects of climate change are concerned.
What a shame. Reflecting its remarkable array of leaders on its advisory board, Risky Business has a well-thought-out strategy: Engage influencers from both sides of the political aisle, inform them with potent data that illuminates how climate change is impacting key sectors of the U.S. economy, and then get them to prod their powerful networks to move on mitigating the effects of pollution and other environmental dangers.
When lawmakers grasp that message (if they ever do), then climate change will move to the front burners and, hopefully, lead to ways to counter the effects that Risky Business convincingly demonstrates already are impacting crime, food, health, infrastructure and other vital sectors.
The report notes that the project aims to highlight climate risks to specific business sectors and regions of the economy and to provide actionable data at a geographically granular level for decisionmakers. “Right now, cities and businesses are scrambling to adapt to a changing climate without sufficient federal government support, resulting in a virtual “unfunded mandate by omission” to deal with climate at the local level,” the report maintains. “We believe that American businesses should play an active role in helping the public sector determine how best to react to the risks and costs posed by climate change.”
Recently, the Columbia Journalism Review asked, “Has Climate Change become a business story?” It observed that The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times published stories ahead of the report’s release. In addition, leading business publications, including Forbes, Fortune and the International Business Times, ran high-profile articles on their websites the day of the press conference.
Steven Mufson, an energy and finance reporter, wrote about it for The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times’ report ran in its Business section. Long-time National Public Radio economics correspondent John Ydstie covered the news and The New York Times was one of the few that covered the event as a science story.
But I’m looking for a different story – one from the corporations themselves – with business leaders talking about their own climate-risk adaptation stories, perhaps galvanized by this report,
In two weeks during New York City’s Climate Week, ND-GAIN will host an event, What’s New: Corporations Leading Climate Resilience around the World, where corporate officials will relate their story by unveiling the latest innovations in adaptation.
Come meet the winners of ND-GAIN’s Corporate Adaptation Prize and join them and the judges for a lively discussion addressing food security, water access, health, and infrastructure solutions in the face of a changing global climate.
And, of course, kudos to Risky Business for getting the influencers to shape the biggest change crisis of our time.