Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Risky Business: The Costs of Climate Change in the US

The Risky Business report makes it harder for people, businesses and investors to ignore the veracity of climate change. The report details the economic costs ranging from rising sea levels, storm surges, agricultural impacts, labor productivity and public health.

Rather than focus on the costs of action, the non-partisan Risky Business report addresses the costs of inaction. The report focuses on the US and it is a deliberate attempt to depoliticise the issue and lay out the case for urgent action. Rather than address the impact of climate change on the world's poor (who will suffer disproportionately) the report focuses on the costs of climate change to Americans. The inference here is that action is a matter of national and self-interest.

The combination of President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address, the IPCC's AR5, the National Climate Assessment, and the EPA's move to reign in emissions from power plants are helping to move the world's largest economy from a nation of denial to a nation of climate action.

The Risky Business report estimates that
  • Coastal storms could cost as much as $35 billion per year in the US alone. 
  • By 2100, $507 billion worth of property will be below sea level. 
  • In some places agricultural yields could decline by up to 70 percent. 
  • Warmer temperatures will require more energy for cooling costing residential and commercial ratepayers up to $12 billion per year in the next 25 years.
The report reiterates the obvious point that we cannot continue with business as usual without incurring catastrophic costs.

Related Articles
New Report on the Costs of Delaying Action on Climate Change
Acting on Climate Change: A Cost Benefit Analysis
Paulson Calls for Climate Action including a Carbon Tax
Video - Overview of the Risky Business report
Video - The Risky Business report (Michael Bloomberg)

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