Costs of Climate Inaction Tallied State-by-State

Today the American Security Project released a series of 50 reports which analyze and project possible economic losses – or in some cases, gains – on a state-by-state basis as a result of unmitigated climate change.

The project, "Pay Now, Pay Later," (PNPL) draws attention to the costs of inaction for each state if we fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to tourism and agriculture, the defense industry does not go untouched by climate change. Military installations in areas vulnerable to extreme weather events have been impacted in the past and are likely to be in the future. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew damaged Homestead Air Force Base in Florida to the point that it never reopened, and in 2004, Hurricane Ivan knocked out Naval Air Station Pensacola for a year.

The PNPL reports show the costly, negative effects on our communities, our industries, and our jobs. The cost of inaction outweighs the cost of transforming our old energy economy into a green one.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, a prominent cap-and-trade proposal would have cost $22 billion a year by 2020 -a total of roughly $175 per US household – a small amount compared to the costs inaction will likely inflict.

Moreover, one study finds investments in renewable energy -which require less spending on machinery and imports – creates 3.5 more green jobs per dollar spent than spending on the old energy economy.

Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ), a former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and who serves on the Board of Directors at the American Security Project (ASP), says: "Too often the debate about climate breaks down over cost, with many Americans rightfully concerned about what limiting pollution would do to our economy. But what this series of reports shows is that there is a cost on the other side of the ledger, too. There will be costs to our economic security from climate change – and significant ones at that – if we do nothing but continue business as usual."

Severe storms and erosion threaten coastal communities, thus the warming and rising of sea levels will affect the 10 million plus people who live on Florida’s coast and other similar communities. 

Severe storms and receding lake levels could disrupt shipping industries in states like Georgia, Ohio, and Michigan, and result in over $4 billion in import and export losses over the next several decades as a result of a decline in the Great Lakes system connectivity.

Kentucky’s timber industry, alone, generates $9.3 billion for its economy. Wooded lands will be damaged as a result of drier ecosystems, which are susceptible to harsher and more frequent forest fires.

Click on a state to see the likely impact:

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Comments on “Costs of Climate Inaction Tallied State-by-State”

  1. Timberati

    So, $22 billion per year, $220 billion per decade, or $660 billion over several decades is *better & cheaper* than $4 billion over several decades and $9.3 billion in Kentucky? The numbers don’t balance very well. Where’s the rest of the loss over several decades?


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