Economic costs to Florida of climate change

11/29/07 Seán Kinane
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A new report by the group Environmental Defense details the effect of climate change on Florida’s economy.

The report is based on research by an economist from Tufts University. It is called Florida and Climate Change: The Costs of Inaction and compares two specific climate scenarios based on how much carbon dioxide pollution is emitted into the atmosphere during this century.

Jerry Karnas, the Florida climate project director for Environmental Defense, unveiled the report in a teleconference yesterday.

“The policy discussion is now about how we can design a climate program with the least cost on Florida’s consumers, on Florida’s businesses, but more importantly how we can grow the economy while we confront climate change. Environment Florida believes that it is a false choice to say that we’re going to make a choice between our economy or the quality of our environment or our ability to confront global warming. We believe that we can create open new markets and new opportunities while we protect Florida for our future.”

One scenario is what they call a “business as usual case” where CO2 emissions continue to increase through the century. The other, the “rapid stabilization case,” would be if CO2 reductions were dramatic, such as those mandated by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

The costs of inaction will be very hard to deal with. The costs will be higher than cost of action will be,” Karnas said.

Frank Ackerman, an economist at Tufts University and a co-author of the study, said the climate we have now is not an available option. Unless action is taken now to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, Ackerman said, by the year 2100, 5 percent of the state’s economy, or $345-billion, would be lost. This is based on Ackerman’s analysis of how only four segments of the state’s economy would be affected by climate change: tourism, sea level rise, hurricane intensity and electricity costs.

Ackerman said that the costs of inaction could end up being even more than 5 percent of Florida’s economy once other segments of the economy are analyzed. He said that even under the stabilization scenario in which carbon dioxide emissions are reduced, Florida would still feel the effects of climate change.

If carbon dioxide levels are not brought under control, sea levels will rise 27 inches, affecting 9 percent of the state, 1-million Floridians, and will cost the state $130-billion dollars, according to Ackerman. The state will also have a fresh water shortage.

Just to make up for Florida’s dryer climate under the worst climate change scenario, Ackerman said the state would have to operate dozens of desalination plants.

Learn More:

Florida and Climate Change: The Costs of Inaction

Graphics from the study

Environmental Defense

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