College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

The staggering cost of climate change quantified for California

November 18, 2008

Hot on the heels of a report demonstrating the economic opportunities available to California if it invests in policies to address climate change, ARE adjunct professor David Roland-Holst has released a new study showing the enormous costs to the state posed by global warming.

About $2.5 trillion of real estate assets in California are at risk, with a projected annual price tag of between $300 million and $3.9 billion, according to the report.

Audio: David Roland-Holst discusses the report on KQED Forum.

Reports the LA Times:

For the first time, the costs of global warming's projected effects in the nation's largest state have been quantified: About $2.5 trillion of real estate assets in California are at risk from extreme weather events, sea level rise and wildfires, with a projected annual price tag of between $300 million and $3.9 billion.

The final number will depend on how much the Earth warms under various scenarios and whether the nations commit to slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is a good review of existing studies," said Anthony Brunello, a California Resources agency official. "It assesses the real, comprehensive statewide impacts for the first time."

"Our report makes clear the most expensive thing we can do about climate change is nothing," Roland-Holst said. But he adds, "This is not a Doomsday report . . . . If we make the right investments, we can avert much of the damage in any scenario."

The report covers seven economic sectors and envisions issues such as the collapse of the ski industry, a water-starved hydroelectric system and an increase in warming-related smog. The research was funded by Next 10, a nonprofit set up by high-tech entrepreneur F. Noel Perry.

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