| Shumway Marshall, Digital Director

June Jobs Briefing with the U.S. Treasury Department


The Labor Department's monthly jobs report is out, and the economy added 288,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate also fell to 6.1 percent, its lowest since September 2008.

What does this mean for the economy and your business? Please join Business Forward for our monthly interactive webinar with Dr. Jennifer Hunt, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Microeconomic Analysis at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Can you make it to Monday's webinar?

     

What: Monthly Jobs Briefing Webinar
When: Monday, July 7, at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Your computer 

Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions live during the webinar or ahead of time on Twitter using #AskJobs. 

Posted In: Jobs
| Shumway Marshall, Digital Director

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to Talk with Business Leaders

Unless Congress acts, by the end of the summer the Federal Highway Trust Fund could be insolvent, putting jobs and critical road projects in many states at risk. If improvements and repairs to America's transportation system are stalled, it will disrupt supply chains and the flow of goods across the country.

You are invited to join a conference call on Wednesday, July 9, at 1:30 p.m. ET to talk with Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on how the Administration's proposed GROW America Act will provide stable funding for our country's highways, bridges, transit and rail systems.

What: Conference call for business leaders with Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
When: Wednesday, July 7 at 1:30 p.m. ET / 10:30 a.m. PT
Where: A unique dial-in and password will be sent to you when you register

 

*required

There will be time for you to ask questions, and you can submit them in advance by emailing info@businessfwd.org.

| Garrett Lance, Policy Associate

The Economic Risks of Climate Change Being Felt Across Sectors

 

Climate change poses increasing and varied risks to the U.S. economy, according to a newly released report by prominent business leaders Michael Bloomberg, Hank Paulson, and Tom Steyer (which you can download here).

The Risky Business report quantifies the financial risk of climate change in different regions – from flooding to decreased labor productivity and crop loss – if business proceeds as usual.

“Because we’re such a large, geographically diverse country, the impacts of climate change are not going to be uniform across the United States,” said Matt Lewis, director of communications for the Risky Business Project, on a recent conference call for business leaders hosted by Business Forward.

On the call, Lewis and Dr. Robert Kopp, the lead scientist behind Risky Business, were joined by Frank Nutter, CEO of the Reinsurance Association of America, to discuss the report’s findings and the possibility of extreme weather events becoming the “new normal.”

Measuring the Impacts

Kopp first explained how the financial impacts of climate change were quantified.

Researchers used models to determine how much these risks might affect the economy. The report predicts significant changes in crop yield and labor productivity from higher temperatures and decreased water availability.

“We’ve come up with a framework for estimating the probability of different temperature and precipitation and sea level outcomes around the United States,” Kopp said.

One of the largest economic impacts will be lost outdoor labor productivity from more extremely hot days, which could amount to at least a percentage point of GDP over the century.

Climate Change Could Cost American Taxpayers

Frank Nutter discussed the financial strain that severe weather places on the federal government and insurance companies.

The U.S. government currently has about $1 billion per year budgeted for disaster assistance.

According to Nutter, however, “the federal cost expenditures looking forward should be about $20 billion a year, on average, for the next 75 years.”

For context, Congress approved $51 billion in federal assistance for Superstorm Sandy, along with another $9 billion for flood insurance.

Providing coverage from natural disasters is also a challenge for the private insurance industry: 12 of the 16 most expensive insured catastrophes have happened in the past decade.

A Chance for Businesses to Lead

While the effects of climate change across regions have catastrophic potential, business leaders have the choice to recognize the risk and invest in a sound economic future.

“We really feel that the business community is in a far better position than anyone else to sort of look at the data, and understand the implications for your business and what you might need to do,” Lewis said.

Posted In: Climate Change

Business leaders know the importance of protecting themselves from rare occurrences. Many businesses buy insurance to pool their risks and hedge against rare, but catastrophic losses. A new report released last week shows that climate change poses a significant risk to our economy.

Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson compared the issue to the recent financial crisis:

"I know a lot about financial risks--in fact, I spent my whole career managing risks and dealing with financial crisis. Today I see another type of crisis looming: A climate crisis. And while not financial in nature, it threatens our economy just the same."

The "Risky Business" project, chaired by business leaders Michael Bloomberg, Hank Paulson, and Tom Steyer, combines scientific research with insurance-based modeling to quantify the economic threats of climate change, down to the regional and sector level. Businesses can then make informed decisions based on their own tolerance for risk.

On Thursday, Business Forward will host a call with members of the Risky Business project to further discuss the report's implications for the business community. Click here to reserve your spot.

We will cover the unique risk for each region in a separate post, but here are the main takeaways from the report (which you can read here):

A New, Precarious Normal 

Climate change will make extreme weather more common, disrupting business operations and supply chains. As the chart below shows, the "new normal" includes more frequent cases of catastrophic weather. Not only will severe weather occur more often, extreme weather will become more destructive.

Weather disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy are rare, but have long-lasting impacts. Nearly 30 percent of businesses that were affected by Superstorm Sandy were estimated to have failed. It is through extreme weather events that climate change poses the greatest threat.

Winners and Losers

The effects of climate change will vary dramatically across the U.S. Each region will face unique risks based on geography, infrastructure and local industry. Some of the effects include:

  • Higher sea levels and more severe storm surge, which could lead to increases in annual property losses of $2 to $3.5 billion along the East and Gulf coasts within 15 years. Between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of property will be indudated by 2050.
  • By 2050, Americans will experience an average of 27 to 50 days of 95°F+ heat every year. Labor productivity for outdoor workers will decline and heat-related mortality will increase.
  • Farmers will need to change what crops they grow, as certain crops may not hold up in a hotter climate. The energy sector will also need to adapt, as businesses use more air conditioning, and use less heating, requiring less natural gas.

These changes will create winners and losers. Climate change may benefit some businesses, like farmers in North Dakota who will gain a longer growing season. But increases in extreme heat will mean that, without adaptation, farmers in the Southeast or Midwest may see crop yields decline by 50 to 70 percent. As a whole, losses will far outweigh the gains. The same is true for businesses that see changes in heating and cooling costs; some may benefit, but on net, the changes will be costly.

We will further describe the impact that climate change will have on each of the seven regions later this week. Join our call on Thursday for an in-depth briefing from researchers that worked on the project.

Posted In: Energy
| Shumway Marshall, Digital Director

The Economic Risk of Climate Change, Findings of the Risky Business Report

Three world-renowned business leaders, Hank Paulson, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg, teamed up to create Risky Business, a first-of-its-kind project that quantifies the financial risk the United States faces if climate change continues unchecked. They released their report this morning. 
You're invited to a conference call on Thursday, June 26, with the Risky Business Project. You'll get a first-hand briefing from expert researchers who have measured the material risks of unmitigated climate change. They'll discuss what sectors and regions are most at risk and explain how power needs, crop yields, and labor will change if the climate continues to warm.

What: The Economic Risk of Climate Change, Findings of the Risky Business Report

Featuring: Kate Larsen, Research Director, Risky Business Project, Matt Lewis, Director of Communications, Risky Business Project, and Frank Nutter, CEO, Reinsurance Association of America

When: Thursday, June 26 at 4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT

Where: A unique dial-in and password will be sent to you when you register

 

Clean energy is becoming "business as usual" for many companies as they save money and reduce emissions, according to an analysis of America's largest corporations. 

Of the 53 Fortune 100 companies that reported their energy targets to CDP, all saved at least $1.1 billion annually by cutting emissions and using clean energy. In 2012, these companies reduced emissions by 58.3 million metric tons of CO2, equivalent to retiring 15 coal plants.

Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies currently have targets to reduce greenhouse gases, increase energy efficiency, or use more renewable energy. The report featured the sustainability efforts of many Business Forward member companies:

  • AT&T set a target to add 5 megawatts of renewable energy and ultimately added 7 megawatts.
  • Lockheed Martin surpassed its target of reducing emissions by 25 percent from 2007 levels by 2012, with a 31 percent reduction.
  • Pfizer achieved a 25 percent reduction from 2007 levels in GHG emissions, beating its goal of a 20 percent reduction.
  • Wal-Mart set a 20 percent emissions reduction goal for 2012, and achieved it a year early.
  • Verizon set a new target to produce 10 megawatts of renewable energy by the end of 2014.

And many of those same companies are seeing large annual savings from energy reduction, including the following member companies:

  • AT&T: $41.5 million
  • Google: $1.1 million
  • Lockheed: $7.1 million
  • Microsoft: $1.0 million
  • Pfizer: $10.0 million
  • Target: $6.6 million
  • Verizon: $16.9 million
  • Wal-Mart: $71.2 million

As the report notes, "What's becoming clear is that companies don't have to choose between the bottom line and addressing climate change."

Posted In: Energy
| Julie Faust, Digital Associate

Crowdfunding Helps Level the Playing Field for Women-led Businesses

Securing capital can be a challenge for any business, and according to a recent study by Massachusetts Institute for Technology researchers, women face disprortionate obstacles when it comes to securing outside investment to grow or start their businesses. The result: women tend to start their businesses with less capital than men and have to rely heavily on their personal savings.

That's about to change, according to Carla Harris, National Women's Business Council Chair and Managing Director for Morgan Stanley. She joined the Small Business Administration and Business Forward for a webinar on crowdfunding for startups and women-led businesses.

Once the rules are finalized by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Title III of the JOBS Act (signed by President Obama in 2012) will allow small businesses to raise up to $1 million in investments without having to make a public offering.

Harris said that the current investment environment is filled for opportunities for women, one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs. She encouraged women to use crowdfunding to secure capital for their businesses, and said that women are outpacing all other demographic groups in raising money through crowdfunding. 

To complement Ms. Harris's guidance, Kim Peyser and Pravina Raghaven of the Small Business Administration joined the call to discuss the crowdfunding portion of the JOBS Act. Their advice focused on what businesses can do now to prepare to implement a crowdfunding strategy once the rules are finalized.

You can listen to the full webinar and download the PowerPoint presentation below.

SBA Crowdfunding Webinar with Business Forward - 4/24/14 from businessforward
Posted In: Jobs
| Julie Faust, Digital Associate

Report to Show Economic Impact of Unmitigated Climate Change

Next week, three world renowned business leaders will release a first-of-its-kind report on the financial risk the United States faces from unmitigated climate change.

Hank Paulson, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg have teamed up to create the Risky Business Project, a non-partisan effort to quantify the economic risk of climate change. They will release their findings on Tuesday, June 24.

In advance of the report's release, the authors, along with their expert panel of policy makers, investors, and business leaders published an open letter in the Wall Street Journal this week about the report. In it, they "recognize that climate change presents a serious long-term risk to our nation's economy." They also say that they are publishing the report to quantify this risk in a way that can inform business decisions and public policy.

The letter's signatories include:

  • Michael Bloomberg: Former Mayor of New York City
  • Hank Paulson: Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush
  • Tom Steyer: Founder of Farallon Capital
  • Henry Cisneros: Founder and Chairman, CityView Capital; former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton; former Mayor of San Antonio, TX
  • Gregory Page: Former CEO and current Chair of the Board of Cargill, Inc.
  • Robert Rubin: Co-chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton
  • Donna Shalala: President, University of Miami; former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton; former Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • George Schultz: Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution; former U.S. Secretary of State under President Ronald Regan; former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Labor, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Richard Nixon
  • Olympia Snow: Former U.S. Senator (R-Maine)
  • Al Sommer: Dean Emeritus, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

You can read the letter below:

An Open Letter to the Business Community

June 17, 2014

As business and policy leaders, we recognize that climate change presents a serious long-term risk to our nation’s economy. Proper risk management dictates that we prepare for the most likely impacts from a changing climate, such as rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, drought, and increasing heat; it also requires that we minimize our exposure to less probable but potentially more devastating risks that threaten entire regions of our country.

We believe a critical first step is to quantify the risks of climate change for American businesses. To accomplish this task, we have joined together as members of the “risk committee” for The Risky Business Project (www.riskybusiness.org), a non-partisan, independent effort that is attempting, for the first time, to analyze the economic risks of climate change for American businesses.

Many of us have spent our careers managing risks to our businesses, our communities, and our nation. While we know America’s businesses are highly adept at identifying opportunities and threats, and adapting to the ever-changing business climate, we are concerned that major U.S. industries, financial institutions, and business leaders are disregarding the economic risks we face from climate change.

The wide range of our professional backgrounds, political views, and experience managing complex enterprises means that we have a diversity of views on this topic. And though we may disagree with each other about the appropriate response to climate change, we all see the same big picture: Climate change is an immediate problem that should command our urgent attention.

Once we have fully grasped the risks we face, we can have an informed, lively debate about how to move forward—the kind of debate that happens in boardrooms and management meetings every day.

Our objective is to quantify the associated risks so that business leaders can better understand how climate change could affect our bottom lines. For example, how much coastal property and infrastructure could be lost to sea level rise and storm surge? How might labor productivity and energy system performance be affected by extreme heat? How will farmers adapt to changes in growing conditions? How much contingent liability might the federal government face from flood insurance, crop insurance, disaster relief, and other taxpayer-funded programs?

Crucially, don’t investors, business leaders, and elected officials have a duty to seek answers to these questions?

The Risky Business Project offers an important first step toward a true accounting of the risks of climate change. We know that with access to this information, the American business community can help lead the way in putting our nation on the path toward effective climate risk management.

Michael R. Bloomberg
Henry Cisneros
Donna E. Shalala
Henry M. Paulson Jr.
Gregory Page
George P. Shultz
Dr. Al Sommer
Thomas F. Steyer
Robert E. Rubin
Olympia Snowe
 

 

 

Posted In: Climate Change
| Garrett Lance, Policy Associate

Insurance Companies See Climate Change as a Growing Concern for Business

As damage from severe weather events becomes more frequent, insurance companies are taking the effects of climate change into account as part of their risk assessment. 

“We do look at extreme weather events and climate-related issues as a growing concern from a credit perspective,” said Steve Dreyer, managing director of U.S. utilities & infrastructure ratings at Standard & Poor’s Rating Services, on a recent conference call for business leaders hosted by Business Forward.

Dreyer also noted that state government credit ratings are vulnerable, but have not yet been impacted by climate because the U.S. federal government has provided aid when needed.

“As we look at state governments, we do not assume that aid is always going to be there, and that there will be a willingness and ability to provide it,” he said.

Dreyer was joined on the call by Dan Utech, special assistant to the President for energy & climate change. Utech highlighted the EPA’s new standards to reduce carbon emissions at power plants as a step toward combatting the effects of climate change.

To draft a proposal that would be feasible and cost-efficient for states, the EPA met with a range of stakeholders, including local governments and businesses.

“I think that a lot of that input that EPA got over the course of that process is reflected in the proposal,” Utech said.

Business leaders are again encouraged to provide input as the EPA works to finalize the standard by next June.

“We’re looking for a lot of feedback from everybody,” Utech said.

Click here to submit a comment on the EPA’s new power plant regulations and listen to the full conversation below.

You are invited to join a conference call on Tuesday, June 17 at 11:30 a.m. ET to talk about changes businesses and investors are making as a result of climate change and severe weather. 

Featuring: 

  • Dan Utech, Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, The White House
  • Steve Dreyer, Managing Director, US Utilities and Infrastructure Ratings, Standard & Poor's Rating Services

What: Conference call for business leaders with Dan Utech and Steve Dryer
When: Tuesday, June 17 at 11:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. PT
Where: A unique dial-in and password will be sent to you when you register

 

*required

There will be time for you to ask questions, and you can submit them in advance by emailing info@businessfwd.org.

ABOUT DAN UTECH
Dan Utech is the Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. Prior to joining the White House, Dan served as a Senior Advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. He joined the Administration after 10 years in the Senate, where he worked on a wide range of energy and environmental policy issues. 

ABOUT STEVE DREYER

Steve Dreyer is managing director and lead analytical manager for U.S. Utilities & Infrastructure Ratings, overseeing credit research and ratings on regulated utilities, independent power producers, midstream energy, oil refiners, and project finance, including renewable energy and private investment in building and operating public infrastructure assets (PPPs).He is the senior analytical manager in S&P’s Washington DC office.

Steve was North American practice leader for S&P Insurance Ratings from 2000 to 2006, a period which saw catastrophic losses from the 9-11terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.  He joined Standard & Poor’s in 1990 with its acquisition of UK-based ratings firm Insurance Solvency International, Ltd.  Previously he was responsible for insurance industry forecasting at Chase Econometrics.

Steve was named by Treasury & Risk Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Finance 2010” for his work in enterprise risk management.  In 2010 he was named to the Advisory Board for the Enterprise Risk Management Initiative at Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University. From 2006 to 2010 he was a director of the non-profit Insurance Marketplace Standards Association.

Posted In: Energy, Climate Change