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Climate Change - Global Warming

Climate Change - Global Warming

Without mitigating measures global climate change will have significant negative economic, environmental and fiscal implications for state and local governments and our communities and residents. In response to this challenge state and local governments are beginning to adopt sustainable policies and practices.

Sustainability means using, developing and protecting resources at a rate and in a manner that enables people to meet their current needs and provides that future generations can meet their own needs... requires simultaneously meeting, environmental, economic, and community needs.

The transition to sustainable policies will be accompanied by changes in work in both the public and private sectors. New jobs will be created, some existing jobs will change and some jobs will be phased out.

The first step to understanding these changes is to review in greater detail the long-term climate estimates for the US and the implications for the public sector.

US National and Regional Impacts

Climate Change Impacts: United States Global Change Research Center - US Federal Agencies

The report is written in plain English and includes separate sections for US geographic regions, water resources, transportation, human health and society. With regard to Society (p. 99 - 106):

In the future (as in the past), the impacts of climate change are likely to fall disproportionately on the disadvantaged...

City residents and city infrastructure have unique vulnerabilities to climate change...

More frequent heavy downpours and floods in urban areas will cause greater property damage, a heavier burden on emergency management, increased clean-up and rebuilding costs, and growing financial toll on business and homeowners.

Cities are also likely to be affected by climate change in unforeseen ways, necessitating diversion of city funds for emergency response to extreme weather.

Increased cost of repairs and maintenance are projected for transportation systems, including roads, railways, and airports, as they are negatively affected by heavy downpours and extreme heat. Coping with increased flooding will require replacements in storm drains, flood channels, levees and dams.

Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States, Congressional Budget Office, May 2009

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (State Fact Sheets) - Union of Concerned Scientists

The Union of Concerned Scientists state fact sheets based on the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Synthesis and Assessment.

The US Economic Impacts of Climate Change and the Costs of Inaction - Center for Integrative Research at the University of Maryland

"Lesson 4. Climate change impacts will place immense strains on public sector budgets.

The effects of climate change will likely place immense strains on public budgets, particularly as the cost of infrastructure maintenance and replacement increases. At the same time, economic losses may translate into lost tax revenues. As a result, public officials may need to raise taxes or cut services. For example, climate change is expected to add $5-10 billion to Alaska’s infrastructure maintenance budget through 2080, depending on the climate change scenario under consideration, because of major replacement costs and service disruptions generated by climate change effects. Recent estimates indicate that a sea-level rise of nearly 20 inches (50 cm) by 2100 would cause $23-170 billion in damages to coastal property throughout the US. In Hawaii, sea level rise will require upgrades to the drinking and wastewater infrastructures -- at a cost that exceeds $1.9 billion over the next 20 years.

In addition, managed ecosystems and the communities they border will require increased resources for their protection. In 2006, $1.5 billion in federal funds was used to protect over 9.3 million acres of forest land and adjacent communities. Climate change-induced warming will mean that Washington State, for instance, will face fire suppression cost increases of over 50% by 2020 and over 100% by 2040, raising the expenses to $93 and $124 million respectively.

Federal insurance programs’ funds are strained because of the increasing trends of adverse weather events. From 1980 to 2005, federal insurance agencies paid out more than $76 billion in claims. The overall risk exposure of the National Flood Insurance Program increased four-fold from 1980 to $1 trillion in 2005, and the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation’s exposure reached $44 billion.

Planning and public policies that promote adaptation and occur in anticipation of climate change impacts are essential to reduce strain on budgets. For example, building codes and land use planning typically reflect historical experiences. With future climate conditions quite different from the past, many of those codes and standards are becoming obsolete. Yet, because we continue to build on the basis of these standards, infrastructures that are expected to last many decades may be outdated, requiring retrofits and upgrades shortly after they have been built. Thus, investments assumed to be completed will require additional resources far sooner than planned." (Executive Summary, p. 6)

State Government

Climate Change 101 - State Action, Pew Center on Climate Change

"State leaders and their constituents are concerned about the projected economic and environmental toll of climate change on their states. Coastal states face concerns over rising sea levels. Agricultural states must confront the potential for lost farm productivity. And the Western states must meet the dual challenges of worsening droughts and increasing wildfire risks."

National Conference of State Legislatures - Economic and Environmental Costs of Climate Change

Reports include an overview of climate change for state legislators and individual reports on the potential fiscal and economic impacts on the state economies of Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

NCSL - Environment and Natural Resources - Climate Change and Air Quality - Issues

NCSL - State Climate Change Proposed Legislation Database

Council of State Governments

Local Government

Climate Change 101 - Local Action, Pew Center on Climate Change

"Across the United States, cities, towns, and counties are enacting policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many local governments are motivated by concerns about the impacts of climate change in their communities as well as an understanding that energy and climate solutions can benefit local economies and residents."

The United States Conference of Mayors - Climate Protection Center

National League of Cities Sustainability Page

International City Management Association - Environment, Sustainability, Smart Growth

National Association of Counties - Energy, Environment and Land Use

ILCEI - Local Governments for Sustainability

Alber, G. & Kern, K. (2008). Governing Climate Change in Cities: Modes of Urban Climate Governance in Multi-level Systems. Paper prepared for OECD conference ’08: Competitive Cities & Climate Change.

Transportation Sector

Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation - National Research Council

Climate Change will affect transportation primarily through increases in several types of weather and extremes, such as very hot days, intense precipitation events; intense hurricanes; droughts; and rising sea levels, coupled with storm surges and land subsidence. The impacts will vary by mode of transportation and region of the country, but they will be widespread and costly both in human and economic terms and will require significant changes in planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation systems.

Potentially, the greatest impacts of climate change for North America's transportation systems will be flooding of coastal roads, railways, transit systems, and runways because of global rising sea leaves, coupled with storm surges and exacerbated in some locations by land subsidence. (p. 190, 191)


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences. Their 2007 "Forth Assessment Report" found that in general developed countries will need to reduce their green house gas emissions to 80% - 95% below 1990 by 2050 with a 25% - 40% reduction below 1990 by 2020 to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. (Working Group III Report, Box 13.7 page 776)

United Nations Environment Programme - Climate Change

Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change - UK Treasury

The evidence shows that ignoring climate change will eventually damage economic growth. Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the 20th century. Tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy for the longer term, and it can be done in a way that does not cap the aspirations for growth of rich or poor countries. The earlier effective action is taken, the less costly if will be. (Executive Summary, p. 2)

The Fiscal Implications of Climate Change - International Monetary Fund

"The potential fiscal implications are immediate as well as lasting, and liable to affect--in differing forms and degree--all Fund members...There has been little assessment of the extent and timing of likely public spending needs, especially in developing countries. Rudimentary estimates suggest additional total costs in poorer countries in the tens of billions annually."

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