Trade Resources Industry Views A Report Looks at The Economic Effects Climate Change Likely to Bring tothe Midwest

A Report Looks at The Economic Effects Climate Change Likely to Bring tothe Midwest

A group of bipartisan business and government leaders released a report Friday that looks at the economic effects climate change is likely to bring to the Midwest, including the region’s farmers, and concludes that in some of the region’s southern counties it will be difficult to grow corn by the end of this century.

“If we continue on our current emissions path without significant adaptation, by the end of the century the Midwest will likely see overall agricultural losses for corn and wheat of 11% to 69% across the region as a whole, with a 1-in-20 chance of more than an 80% decline,” says a report from the Risky Business Project called “Heat in the Heartland: Climate Change and Economic Risk in the Midwest.”

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Jr. and former Cargill CEO Gregory Page talked about the report at a noon webcast from the Economic Club of Minnesota in Minneapolis. (You should still be able to view the webcast here.)

Unlike the many scientific reports on climate change, the Risky Business Project aims to lay out the economic risks that climate change poses for businesses and doesn’t tell them how to respond, said Paulson, who along with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former hedge fund manager and political activist Tom Steyer, founded the group.

“The focus wasn’t going to be on solutions, which can be very divisive,” Paulson said. 

“The other thing that appealed to me about this is it’s bipartisan,” he said. The group’s “Risk Committee” includes George P. Schultz a former Republican Secretary of State. Democrats on the committee include former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros.

Page, who hinted that it took arm twisting by Paulson to get him on the group's committee, said he knows how divisive the issue of climate change is among farmers, but he likes the approach. “It speaks the language of business,” he said.

“We really want to try to be a voice to call out to agriculture, whether it’s the land grant universities, the genetics companies, John Deere, to get engaged in this discussion and be seen, not necessarily as believers, and certainly not as  deniers, but to be discussers,” he said.

Page mentioned one effect of changing climate for Cargill—greater transportation risks in barge shipments of grain caused by weather extremes that have left the Mississippi River too dry to support barge traffic in parts of some years and so flooded that barges couldn’t get through locks in parts of others. His company was among those urging Congress for three years to raise barge taxes so that the nation’s aging locks and dams can be better prepared for such changes.

“It took them over three years to get them to raise our taxes by nine cents a gallon,” Page said. 

“We saw it as critical to dealing with some of the probabilities that climate change could put in front of us and to fund that effort on behalf of farmers who need those riverways to market their crops,” he said .

Contribute Copyright Policy
Business Group: AG Faces Climate Risk