The White House released the fourth installment of the Congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment detailing the domestic and global effects of climate change. The report lays the cards on the table - the effects of climate change are real, which include increasingly deadly wildfires, debilitating hurricanes, and extensive heat waves that are negatively affecting people's health and wellbeing. This week, we take a closer look at the report.
HIGH STAKES GAME
The report assigns specific expenses to the effects of a warming planet. The authors estimate that climate change could slash up to a 10th of the United States' gross domestic product (GDP) by the year 2100. Extreme heat could result in the loss of over a half a billion labor hours this century, in the Southeastern United States alone. The report predicts that heat-related deaths could cost up to $141 billion. Sea level rises could cost $118 billion and infrastructure damage could cost $32 billion by the end of the century.
BREAD BASKET BET
Rising temperatures in the Midwest are projected to be the largest contributing factor to declines in U.S. agricultural productivity, with extreme heat wilting crops and posing a threat to livestock. During the growing season, temperatures are projected to climb more in the Midwest than in any other region of the continental United States. Midwest farmers will be increasingly challenged by warmer, wetter, and more humid conditions from climate change, which also will lead to greater incidence of crop disease and more pests and will diminish the quality of stored grain.
Questioning the administration’s “Black Friday” release date for the report, pundits say the report’s recommendations are at odds with the Trump administration’s domestic policy agenda. Critics argue that the Trump administration has pursued a largely deregulatory agenda, reversing and rolling back standards that limit vehicle and power plant emissions and changed clean water standards.
DOES THE HOUSE AWAYS WIN?
More than 300 federal and non-federal scientists worked on the report, the first of its kind under President Trump, with its final draft reviewed by 13 federal agencies. The report concludes that the effects of climate change cannot be reversed, but says that its worst effects can be mitigated through aggressive action at all levels. If we’re reading the cards correctly, this report will shuffle the Congressional agenda this January. We’ll be there when the new players take their seats.
Prime Minister Theresa May obtained the approval of 27 European Union members on a formal divorce pact from the bloc, taking a significant step to seal Britain’s exit. Although the EU has endorsed the official Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, the Prime Minister must secure approval through the U.K. Parliament, which commenters suggest is no sure bet. The vote is expected before Christmas.
A COPY OF YOUR PASSPORT
The current EU passporting system for banks, financial services companies, and insurers enables authorized firms in any EU or EEA state to trade freely in any other with minimal additional authorization. If, or when, the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU, and at the end of any transition period, passporting rights that currently exist between the United Kingdom and the European Economic Area (EEA) are expected to cease. Nevertheless, leading insurance rating agencies anticipate that most carriers have established, or will establish the necessary subsidiary corporate arrangements to provide seamless coverage or reinsurance agreements.
Making Our Way Around the Country
Friday marks the anticipated expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Leading industry trade groups sent a letter to lawmakers urging Congress to extend the NFIP. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it is “confident” the NFIP won’t lapse. Bipartisan, short-term legislation was introduced in the Senate last week to reauthorize the NFIP for six months. We’ll check back next week.
Lawmakers in the U.S. House introduced The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, which, if passed, would help protect millions of nurses and other health care workers from the high rates of violence they experience on the job. The measure would require hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, mental health providers, and jails to develop a workplace safety plan to protect their workers from violence they experience at the hands of patients, which remains on the rise.
Two Kentucky representatives have pre-filed a bipartisan bill to repeal a new law that limits which doctors can evaluate black lung workers' compensation claims. Under existing law, federally certified doctors who review black lung X-rays have to be pulmonologists, not radiologists. The change reduces the number of doctors eligible to diagnose black lung from 10 to 4. State black lung claims in Kentucky have risen about 40 percent since 2014.
Florida Senate President Bill Galvano took office this week. In his opening media engagement, President Galvano vowed to revisit Florida’s workers’ compensation act, in light of the state’s Supreme Court rulings. His willingness to tackle workers’ compensation insurance comes on the heels of an announcement this month by the state Office of Insurance Regulation that rates will go down an average of 13.8 percent in 2019. That follows a 9.5 percent average rate reduction this year. President Galvano said of the comp system, “I’d rather look at the system and make any changes that are necessary while we have the luxury of not having high rates.”
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
Next week marks the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference in Las Vegas. The conference brings together professionals from all facets of the industry to exchange ideas, share best practices, and learn new ways of doing business from some of the country’s largest, and most respected employers. If you are going to be at the NWCDC, please stop by our booth #5723 in the Exhibit Hall. It would be our privilege to start a conversation that that does not stay in Vegas. Safe travels, especially to all those on the backstreets and frozen out avenues affected by Winter Storm Bruce.