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Florida and Climate Change: The Costs of Inaction

GDAE's Dr. Elizabeth Stanton and Dr. Frank Ackerman are the authors on a new report commissioned by Environmental Defense, “Florida and Climate Change:  The Costs of Inaction.” The report is the first detailed analysis on the potential consequences of continued climate change for the state’s economy. The report concludes that if left unchecked, climate change will significantly harm Florida’s economy in the next several decades, and that impacts on just three sectors – tourism, electric utilities, and real estate – together with effects of hurricanes would shrink Florida’s Gross State Product by 5% by the end of this century. 

“The bad news is that unconstrained climate change will hit Florida’s economy hard,” said Dr. Frank Ackerman of Tuft’s University’s Global Development and Environment Institute and Stockholm Environment Institute-US, one of the report’s lead authors.  “But the good news is that these impacts can largely be avoided by taking action in the near future to rapidly stabilize overall emissions of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.”

Download the full report here in either High Resolution (12MB) or Low Resolution (2.5MB)

Read more about GDAE's work on the Economics of Climate Change


The press release by Environmental Defense is immediately below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:
Jerry Karnas, Environmental Defense, 941-587-1803 
Dr. Frank Ackerman, Tufts University, 617-627-6957
Lisa Garcia, Ron Sachs Communications, 850-222-1996

Climate Change Poses Significant Threat to Key Economic Sectors in Florida
University Study Says Five Percent of State’s Economy At Risk

 (Tallahassee, FL– November 28, 2007) If left unchecked, climate change will significantly harm Florida’s economy in the next several decades, according to a new report by Tufts University economists.  Impacts on just three sectors – tourism, electric utilities, and real estate – together with effects of hurricanes would shrink Florida’s Gross State Product by 5% by the end of this century. The report is available at www.gdae.org/FloridaClimate.html.  

“The bad news is that unconstrained climate change will hit Florida’s economy hard,” said Dr. Frank Ackerman of Tuft’s University’s Global Development and Environmental Institute and Stockholm Environment Institute-US, one of the report’s lead authors.  “But the good news is that these impacts can largely be avoided by taking action in the near future to rapidly stabilize overall emissions of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.”

“Florida and Climate Change:  The Costs of Inaction,” commissioned by Environmental Defense, is the first detailed analysis on the potential consequences of continued climate change for the state’s economy.   The report compares two specific climate scenarios: a pessimistic business-as-usual case and a rapid stabilization case.  “These scenarios represent what will happen if the world succeeds in a robust program of climate mitigation, versus what will happen if we do very little. Our analysis focuses on direct economic impacts, and doesn’t even begin to reflect the human and environmental impacts that would also result – impacts that may well outstrip the dollar costs,” said Ackerman. 
 
Under the business-as-usual scenario, sea-level rise is projected to reach 23 inches by 2050, and 45 inches by 2100.  Almost one-tenth of Florida’s current population, or 1.5 million people, lives in the vulnerable zone that would be inundated.  Tourism, one of Florida’s largest economic sectors, will be the hardest hit as much of the state’s wealth of natural beauty – sandy beaches, the Everglades and the Keys – disappears under the waves.  The vulnerable zone also includes key infrastructure, including two nuclear power plants, three prisons, 68 hospitals, 74 airports, 334 public schools, and nearly 20,000 historic structures.

“Arguments against strong action to combat climate change often implicitly assume that inaction
would be cost-free — that we can chose a future without significant impacts from climate
change even if emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continue to grow
unchecked,” said Ackerman.  “But the overwhelming scientific consensus now holds that this rosy assumption is simply wrong, and that the more greenhouse gases are released, the worse the consequences will be.”

“This study shows that Florida stands to lose big time if Congress fails to enact strong climate legislation in the near future,” said Gerald Karnas, Florida Climate Project Director for Environmental Defense.   “The longer Congress delays, the harder that climate change will hit Floridians right in the wallet.”

###

Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. www.environmentaldefense.org

 

Download the full report here in either High Resolution (12MB) or Low Resolution (2.5MB)

Read more about GDAE's work on the Economics of Climate Change

Global Development And Environment Institute
Tufts University
Medford , MA 02155 USA
tel. 617-627-3530 - fax. 617-627-2409 
email: gdae@tufts.edu

 

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