Cal Adds Up Price of Climate Change

Study shows it will have big impact on economy

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Cal adds up cost of climate change.

    A report issued by the University of California, Berkeley Thursday  says that climate change could have a devastating impact on the state's  economy.

    David Roland-Holst the report's author and an adjunct professor at  UC-Berkeley, said, "Our report makes clear the most expensive thing we can do  is nothing."

    Roland-Holst said that while multiple studies have projected the  economic impact of taking action to reduce global warming emissions, this is  the first to comprehensively assess the potential costs of climate risk and  review opportunities for strategic adaptation.

    He said real estate and insurance, taken together, represent the  largest economic climate risk for California, yet they are the least studies  to date.

    The report finds that the state has $4 trillion in real estate  assets, of which $2.5 trillion are at risk from extreme weather events, the  potential rise in sea levels and wildfires.

    Roland-Holst said the annual price tag for the economic climate  risk ranges wildly from $300 million to $3.9 billion over this century,  depending on how warm the world gets.

    He said if no action is taken in the face of rising temperatures,  six additional sectors, including water, energy, transportation, tourism and  recreation, agriculture and public health, would together incur bens of  billions per year in direct costs, and even higher indirect costs, and expose  trillions of dollars of assets to collateral risk.

    The study was funded by Next 10, a Palo Alto-based nonpartisan  nonprofit organization.

    The group's founder, venture capitalist F. Noel Perry, said, "The  scale of climate risk over the coming decades dwarfs today's financial crisis  and will long outlive it. It is up to responsible leadership to protect the  public interest."

    Roland-Holst said the report finds that effective responses to  climate change, including mitigation to prevent the worst impacts, can be  carried out at a fraction of the long-term cost of inaction.

    He said California must act without delay to expand the technical  assessment of climate risk and policy options, begin to re-deploy existing  resources for infrastructure renewal and replacement and provide private  incentives to promote long-term adaptation, including investments for climate  security and energy independence.

    Roland-Holst said he believes directing public spending toward a  more climate-friendly infrastructure can stimulate local job creation and  complimentary private investments.

    He said private sector growth can be further accelerated with  investment
    incentives and other promotion for energy efficiency and  technologies for climate adaptation.