Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Failing to curb climate change could cost U.S. $180 billion in economic losses by 2100

If the world fails to take measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, it could cost the U.S. $180 billion in economic losses by the end of the century because of drought and water shortages, says a report released Monday by the White House and Environmental Protection Agency. "White House officials said the report, which analyzes the economic costs of a changing climate across 20 sectors of the American economy, is the most comprehensive effort to date to quantify the impacts of global warming," Coral Davenport reports for The New York Times.

The report, which comes at a time when the Obama administration is pushing proposed rules to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants 30 percent by 2030, "found that global policy to curb climate change could prevent 12,000 deaths from extreme heat and cold, or what it estimated as $200 billion in savings to the American economy by 2100," Davenport writes. Regulations are expected to be released in August.

The report also found that "climate policy could prevent 720 to 2,200 bridges from becoming structurally vulnerable for an estimated savings by the end of the century of $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion," Davenport writes. It could also "prevent $50 million to $6.4 billion in adaptation costs to urban drainage systems, which could be flooded by extreme storms."

"The report found a 40 percent to 59 percent reduction in probability of extreme drought, which would otherwise cost American farmers $2.6 billion to $3.1 billion," Davenport writes. "Unchecked climate change could lead to the destruction by wildfire of six million to 7.9 million acres of forest, the report found, at a cost of $940 million to $1.4 billion. And it could lead to the destruction of ecosystems such as coral reefs that support economic activity, including 35 percent of the coral reefs in Hawaii, at a loss of $1.2 billion." (Read more)

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