U.S. companies should treat climate change the same as any other major business threat, says a new report released today by a group led by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg,The Wall Street Journal reported


The report, "Risky Business: The Economic Risk of Climate Change in the United States," which says climate change could cost the country billions of dollars over the next two decades, is the product of a bipartisan group of former Cabinet officers, lawmakers, corporate leaders and scientists.


In an interview, Paulson said the goal is to depoliticize the climate-change debate and instead focus on how it poses an economic risk to U.S. businesses.


"The whole point was to have a bipartisan group who agreed on the nature of the problem, which is that climate change is a huge economic risk," said Paulson, who served under President George W. Bush.


The study concludes that within the next 15 years, higher sea levels, storm surges and hurricanes could raise the annual price tag for coastal damage along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico to $35 billion.


The report identifies specific impacts to Iowa in the next five to 25 years:

  • Average summer temperatures could rise an additional 1.7 to 4 degrees.
  • The state could experience between seven and 17 days over 95 degrees per year, (Currently, the state averages just three days over 95 degrees per year.)

Looking at the end of the century, likely impacts include:

  • More intense and long-lasting heat could drive up commercial and residential energy demand 5.6 to 16.2 percent.
  • Energy expenditures could correspondingly rise by 8.4 to 29 percent.

The authors note that under the "business-as-usual" scenario and assuming no significant adaptation by farmers, the Midwestern region as a whole faces likely yield declines of up to 19 percent by midcentury and 63 percent by the end of the century.