A new report showcases the projected costs on eight major sectors of the state’s economy over the next two to three decades.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Researchers from RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, released a report highlighting the impact climate change will have on the economy and to residents of North Carolina if urgent action is not taken to curb climate-warming pollution. Commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund, the report highlights the projected cost on eight major sectors of the state’s economy, spanning over the next 20 to 30 years, and offers actions and policy recommendations the state can take to build resilience.
“This report underscores the many ways that climate change is already costing North Carolinians — with growing damages affecting homes, farms, roads, and businesses across the state as sea levels rise and as hurricanes and other storms become more intense,” said George Van Houtven, author of the report and researcher at RTI. “If climate change remains unchecked, those costs will put a growing strain on North Carolinians’ health and economy within the next few decades.”
Researchers share that the most harmful impacts to the economy are likely to stem from intensifying extreme events such as hurricanes, extreme heat, droughts, and floods. They expect residential and commercial properties to be greatly impacted by flooding. By 2045, they estimate more than 15,600 properties valued at almost $4 billion, to be at risk for flooding—which threatens the local tax base needed for community services, like schools and hospitals.
Findings also suggest that the health and safety of North Carolinians could be compromised due to extreme heat and predict heat related emergency room visits could increase two-threefold by 2050. The researchers warn that this could disproportionately impact low-income populations, who may have fewer resources to protect themselves, across the state.
“These mounting costs should send a warning to our state leaders: North Carolina can’t afford to delay concrete policy action on climate change,” said Dionne Delli-Gatti, Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs at EDF. “Crucially, the state needs to act decisively to put a firm limit on climate-warming pollution — an action that can help curb the worst impacts of climate change, while growing clean energy jobs and protecting the communities most impacted by pollution and climate impacts.”
Amongst impacts to the health and safety of North Carolinians and risk of property damage, the report also describes expected impacts to agriculture and forestry; commercial fishing and aquaculture; transportation infrastructure; water infrastructure and services; energy supply and demand; and recreation and tourism across the state.
The researchers emphasize that there is still time to act and offer meaningful recommendations for state-level policymakers within the report.
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