COSTS

COSTS

A landmark 2015 study published in the journal Nature concluded that an average local temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit is economically optimal, especially for agricultural productivity, but that economic productivity lessens as temperatures rise. The study’s authors said that the damage caused by anthropogenic climate change had been significantly underestimated.

Not coincidentally, wealthy countries like the United States, France, China, and Japan fall in that temperature range. But a half-century’s worth of data, the authors said, demonstrate that wealthy countries are nearly as vulnerable to a warmer world as poorer countries. And countries with hotter climates, which tend to be poorer, will be even harder hit by climate change.

A stunning 77 percent of countries will be poorer in 2100 if fossil fuel use continues on its historic trajectory, the study found.

More recently, a team of climate and Earth scientists and economists concluded that the economic risks of climate change have been grossly underestimating or omitting many of the most serious consequences, in part because there is no precedent in human history for a world in which we are warming the climate far faster than natural events ever have.

The New York Times is keeping tabs, noting that the present regime is reversing nearly 100 environmental rules. It has “weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and from cars and trucks,” and rolled back many more rules.

Unless nations around the world adhere, at the very least, to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as pledged in the Paris Climate Agreement, the economic costs of climate change will soon come into sharper focus.

A 2019 study by federal Environmental Protection Agency predicted an annual cost for unchecked climate change of hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century. The E.P.A. study saw “water shortages, crippled infrastructure, and polluted air that shortens lives,” among other damages.

However, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a warming planet would sharply cut that annual cost the study found.

The illustration below depicts specific climate events and the devastating economic consequences of wildfires and extreme weather events.

CREDIT: NOAA

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Overview

10/22/21
In 2021 (as of October 8), there have been 18 weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each to affect the United States. These events included 1 drought event, 2 flooding events, 9 severe…

Assessing the U.S. Climate in June 2021

07/21/21
The June contiguous U.S. temperature was 72.6°F, 4.2°F above the 20th-century average, ranking warmest in the 127-year record and surpassing the previous record for June set in 2016 by 0.9°F. The year-to-date average temperature for…

Addressing the human cost in a changing climate

07/06/21
Climate change is leading to systemic and existential impacts, and evidence is mounting that these can result in the displacement of human populations. There is a rapidly growing demand for comprehensive risk assessments that include…

Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk

05/25/21
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1. Policy. The intensifying impacts of climate change…

Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States

10/01/20
Costing out the effects of climate change.

Water: A human and business priority

08/14/20
Water is the lifeblood of humanity. With it, communities thrive. But, when the supply and demand of fresh water are misaligned, the delicate environmental, social, and financial ecosystems on which we all rely are at…

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Mapping

08/05/20
Use the interactive mapping tool below to better visualize the frequency and cost of billion-dollar weather and climate events.

Stopping Global Warming Will Cost $50 Trillion: Morgan Stanley Report

02/05/20
A new report from Morgan Stanley analysts finds that the cost of halting climate change by 2050 will require trillions of dollars of investment in five key ares of zero-carbon technology.

The New Climate Economy: Accelerating Climate Action in Urgent Times

12/09/19
A 2018 report released by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate suggests that the world could reap $26 trillion and gain 65 million new jobs by 2030 if governments were to carry out…

Carbon Shock: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy: How Carbon Is Changing the Cost of Everything (2011)

01/10/19
In Carbon Shock, veteran journalist Mark Schapiro takes readers on a journey into a world where the same chaotic forces reshaping our natural world are also transforming the economy, playing havoc with corporate calculations, shifting…

Climate Change Will Cost Taxpayers Billions In Near Future, Federal Report Shows

11/26/18
By 2100, the country’s GDP could shrink by 10 percent, triggering an economic crisis twice as damaging as the Great Recession.

MORE NEWS

Rising Heat Is Making It Harder to Work in the U.S., and the Costs to the Economy Will Soar With Climate Change

By Ciara Nugent   08/31/21  
Rising extreme heat will make it increasingly hard for workers to do their jobs, shaving hundreds of billions of dollars off the U.S. economy each year. That’s according to a report published Tuesday by the…

‘Climate change is going to cost us’: How the US military is preparing for harsher environments

By Andrew Eversden   08/09/21  
The aftermath of Hurricane Florence dumping 36 inches of rain on North Carolina in 2018 saw three Marine Corps installations flooded, costing taxpayers $3.6 billion in damage. A few weeks later, Hurricane Michael ripped through…

The cost of cooling: how air conditioning is heating up the world

By Aliya Uteuova  Photo: Yonhap , EPA   07/25/21  
The widespread reliance on air conditioning in the US is explored in Eric Dean Wilson’s book After Cooling: on Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort. The book explores how air conditioning has…

The total health and climate consequences of the American food system cost three times as much as the food itself

By Laura Reiley  Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg   07/16/21  
The true cost of food is even higher than you think, a new report out Thursday says. The United States spends $1.1 trillion a year on food. But when the impacts of the food system…

2020 Disaster Estimations Reveal at Least $3.6 Billion in Uncovered Losses

07/08/21  
Hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts – oh my! Not only was 2020 defined by COVID-19-induced volatility, over 22 weather and climate disasters, each with damages reaching over a billion dollars, hit the U.S. coast to coast…
WSJ

Oil Companies Are Ordered to Help Cover $7.2 Billion Cleanup Bill in Gulf of Mexico

By Christopher M. Matthews   07/06/21  
Some of the world’s largest oil companies have been ordered to pay part of a $7.2 billion tab to retire hundreds of aging wells in the Gulf of Mexico that they used to own, capping…
WSJ

Far From Texas, Huge Gas Bills Stoke Anger After February Freeze

By Christopher M. Matthews   06/27/21  
An angry backlash is building across the middle of the U.S. as states step in to help their constituents pay billions of dollars in natural-gas bills racked up during February’s freeze. While most escaped the…

Climate change alone cost Houston $13 billion during Harvey, study says

By Fernando Ramirez   06/18/21  
It’s widely known that Hurricane Harvey, one of the costliest storms in U.S. history, was supercharged by climate change. At least three separate studies have tried to quantify to what degree. In 2017, one research…

Air Pollution and Climate Change Cost the Average American $2500 Per Year

By Aubrey Patti   06/17/21  
A report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows that air pollution and climate change cost each American an average of $2,500 per year in health care. The researchers used data from dozens of…

Here’s How You’re Already Paying for Climate Change

By Emma Kerr  Photo: Getty Images   06/10/21  
States in the Midwest and Northeast set record temperature highs on Monday as an extreme heat wave moved across the country from drought-ridden areas in the West, while at the other end of the spectrum,…

Climate crisis inflicting huge ‘hidden costs’ on mental health

By Damian Carrington  Photo: Delmer Martinez/AP   05/26/21  
The climate crisis is damaging the mental health of hundreds of millions of people around the world but the huge costs are hidden, scientists have warned. Heatwaves are increasing rates of suicide, extreme weather such…

US Health Costs from Climate Change, Fossil Fuel Pollution Top $820B a Year

Photo: Chris LeBoutillier   05/25/21  
New NRDC report synthesizes dozens of scientific research papers and is among the first to tally a broad financial toll on public health from climate-change-driven extreme weather, unprecedented heat waves, spikes in air pollution and…

How much damage does climate change cause in Colorado?

By Mark Jaffe  Photo: Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun   05/25/21  
The East Troublesome fire, Colorado’s second largest ever, was sweeping across Grand County forests on Oct. 25, 2020, part of a record-breaking wildfire season that forced evacuations, destroyed homes and took lives. Half a world…

Get Ready for Financial Shocks From Climate Change, Biden Tells Officials

By Christopher Flavelle  Photo: Stefani Reynolds   05/20/21  
President Biden has ordered government agencies to prepare for climate-related shocks across the economy, as escalating disasters threaten home prices, the value of retirement funds and even the stability of the global financial system.

Climate change meant Hurricane Sandy caused $8 billion more damage

By Karina Shah  photo/Master Sgt Mark C Olsen/Alamy   05/18/21  
Without sea level rise caused by human-induced climate change, Hurricane Sandy would have caused $8.1 billion less damage, according to a modelling study. Hurricane Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, swept over the Caribbean…

Record number of billion-dollar disasters struck U.S. in 2020

01/08/21  
It was an extraordinary year for weather and climate events in the U.S.: The nation endured an unprecedented 22 billion-dollar disasters in 2020.  A record number of named tropical storms formed in the Atlantic, with…

Study: Decarbonizing U.S. electricity by 2035 could cost less than expected

By Kathiann M. Kowalski   12/03/20  
Fossil fuel plants with nearly three-fourths of current generating capacity will reach the end of their typical lifespan by 2035.

How climate change could spark the next home mortgage disaster

By Zack Colman  Photo: Josh Ritchie   11/30/20  
With its lively parks and colorful bungalows, Hialeah, Fla., has been the gateway to the American middle class for thousands of Cuban immigrants. Hialeah was the place where home ownership, an unattainable goal under the…

Aggressive push to 100% renewable energy could save Americans billions – study

By Oliver Milman  Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA   10/22/20  
An aggressive push towards 100% renewable energy would save Americans as much as $321bn in energy costs, while also slashing planet-heating emissions, according to a new report.

Iowa derecho in August was most costly thunderstorm disaster in U.S. history

By Bob Henson  Photo by KC McGinnis   10/17/20  
No single thunderstorm event in modern times — not even a tornado — has wrought as much economic devastation as the derecho that slammed the nation’s Corn Belt on Aug. 10, based on analyses from…

Climate crisis to blame for $67bn of Hurricane Harvey damage – study

By Fiona Harvey  Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty   06/12/20  
Exclusive: new figure far higher than previous estimates of direct impact of global heating
EDF

The true cost of carbon pollution

By Susanne Brooks   03/02/20  
Climate change causes devastating impacts: extreme weather events like flooding and deadly storms; the spread of disease; sea level rise; increased food insecurity; and other disasters.

Extreme weather and climate disasters cost the U.S. billions in 2019, NOAA reports

By Audrey Mcnamara, Jeff Berardelli   01/08/20  
The United States experienced another year of extreme weather in 2019, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual U.S. climate assessment.

New report finds costs of climate change impacts often underestimated

By Dana Nuccitelli   11/18/19  
It's difficult to accurately project the costs of climate change impacts because the rate and magnitude of climate change is unprecedented.

Climate change could be costing Pennsylvania hundreds of millions, auditor says

By Katie Meyer  Photo: Sarah Kovash   11/13/19  
Pennsylvania’s auditor general, Eugene DePasquale, is attempting to quantify what climate change will cost Pennsylvania....

Climate events have cost the US economy more than $500 billion over the last 5 years, Fed official says

By Gina Heeb  Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP Photo   11/10/19  
In addition to causing damage to natural resource and infrastructure, global warming is expected to disrupt business operations and economic activity in the coming years. ...

Preparations for the climate crisis will save trillions, commission finds

By Chloé Farand  Photo: Sino-German Urbanisation Partnership/Flickr   10/09/19  
Every $1 spent on climate adaptation could see between $2 and $10 of net economic benefit, but current investments are lagging way behind

Some economics nerds just realized how much climate change will cost us

By Kate Yoderon  Photo: Frank Bienewald / LightRocket via Getty Images   10/03/19  
A bunch of economists just put down their calculators and concluded that we should act on climate change sooner rather than later. Really.

Climate change means the government faces more costs from natural disasters. If only it admitted it.

By Malka Older  Photo: Al Diaz/Miami Herald/AP   10/01/19  
We can protect ourselves to some degree from these dire events, but only if we honestly assess disaster patterns, intensity and probabilities....

It’s now cheaper to build new renewables than it is to build natural gas plants

By Adele Peters  Photo: Evgeny Sergeev/iStock   09/11/19  
Clean energy has reached a tipping point: It’s now cheaper to build and use a combination of wind, solar, batteries, and other clean tech in the U.S. than to build most proposed natural gas plants.…

The Real Cost of Your Blue Jeans

By Dana Thomas  Photo by Bill Diodato   09/03/19  
The biggest fashion trend in recent years is "fast fashion"—the mass production of trendy, inexpensive clothing with lightning-quick turnaround. This is a hugely wasteful global, environmental and human rights disaster, according to bestselling journalist Dana…

“There’s no doubt about it” — Researchers suggest increased fire activity, and cost, due to climate change in Alaska

By Derek Minemyer  Photo: Meshel   09/02/19  
Researchers in Alaska say climate change is shifting the way the state manages resources, including around wildfires. They predict a warmer climate will bring bigger and hotter fires and a higher cost of suppressing those…

Fashion industry’s carbon impact bigger than airline industry’s

By Megan Cerullo   08/19/19  
The apparel and footwear industries together account for more than 8 percent of global climate impact, greater than all international airline flights and maritime shipping trips combined.

Companies See Climate Change Hitting Their Bottom Lines in the Next 5 Years

By Brad Plumer  Photo: Rodger Bosch   06/04/19  
Many of the world’s biggest companies, from Silicon Valley tech firms to large European banks, are bracing for the prospect that climate change could substantially affect their bottom lines within the next five years, according…

Lobbying against key US climate regulation ‘cost society $60bn’, study finds

By Josh Gabbatiss   05/27/19  
Political lobbying in the US that helped block the progress of proposed climate regulation a decade ago led to a social cost of $60bn, according to a new study.

America’s missed climate targets cost global economy $1 trillion, Dublin-based think tank finds

By Sharon Kelly   04/05/19  
“Someone, somewhere, at some time will eventually pay the price.”

The P.G. & E. Bankruptcy and the Coming Climate-Related Business Failures

By Sheelah Kolhatkar   02/26/19  
The California-based utility may be the most high-profile company to face collapse for reasons linked to climate change, but it won’t be the last.

Climate disasters cost the world $650 billion over 3 years — Americans are bearing the brunt: Morgan Stanley

By Tom DiChristopher   02/14/19  
North America absorbed two-thirds of the global cost of climate disasters over the last three years, Morgan Stanley says.

Wildfires, hurricanes and other extreme weather cost the nation 247 lives, nearly $100 billion in damage during 2018

By Chris Mooney  Photo: Noah Berger/AP   02/06/19  
Experts say that climate change might already be fueling an increase in the number of billion-dollar disasters.

Climate Change’s Giant Impact on the Economy: 4 Key Issues

By Neil Irwin  Photo by Jonathan Bachman   01/17/19  
Using increasingly sophisticated modeling, researchers are calculating how each tenth of a degree of global warming is likely to play out in economic terms. Their projections carry large bands of uncertainty, because of the vagaries…

Why climate change is going to clobber our economy

By Bob Keefe   01/10/19  
Never mind record temperatures, flooding, wildfires and rising seas. Recent reports about the state of climate change send another warning about its impacts: It’s going to clobber our economy.

Americans Will Pay Billions More For Climate Change, and That’s the Best Case

By Eric Roston   11/23/18  
A grim U.S. government assessment of global warming’s economic impact gives a whole new meaning to Black Friday.
Vox

Social cost of carbon: why climate change is a global injustice

By Umair Irfan   09/27/18  
All efforts to fight climate change face the money test: Are the benefits of stopping global warming — and avoiding sea level rise, heat waves, and wildfires — greater than the costs?

Millions of unwitting Americans paying $1 billion more for dirty coal energy each year when cleaner, cheaper sources available

By Jon Queally   09/26/18  
Millions of U.S. energy consumers across multiple are unwittingly propping up a coal industry by paying more than $1 billion annually over recent years for dirty energy that renewable sources could have provided at much…

Climate Change Costing US $250 Billion Annually

By Jackson Schroeder   09/25/18  
A recent report from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) shows that the U.S.’s economy will suffer worse from climate change than nearly any other country in the world.

The Cost of Climate Change in Hawaii

By LiAnne Yu   09/06/18  
The world is literally changing and here are six issues we need to understand so we can begin calculating the costs and consequences of climate change and prepare for them. We won’t be able to…

You’ve Heard of Outsourced Jobs, but Outsourced Pollution? It’s Real, and Tough to Tally Up

By Brad Plumer   09/04/18  
Many wealthy countries have effectively “outsourced” a big chunk of their carbon pollution overseas, by importing more steel, cement and other goods from factories in China and other places, rather than producing it domestically.

Air Pollution Could Be Costing the Solar Industry Billions

By Maddie Stone   08/30/18  
Air pollution stemming from oil, gas, and coal may be making it harder for solar to gain a foothold. That’s according to a new study that looked at how tiny air pollution particles known as…

Trump Put a Low Cost on Carbon Emissions. Here’s Why It Matters.

By Brad Plumer   08/23/18  
In its rollback proposals, the Trump administration argued that each ton of carbon dioxide emitted by a car or a coal plant in 2020 would only cause around $1 to $7 in economic damages. That’s…

Extreme heat, wildfires and the cost of climate change

08/06/18  
Environmental economics expert Sam Fankhauser discusses extreme weather events and says it will become 'the new normal'.