WASHINGTON, June 2 – Costs from hurricane damages in the United States are expected to increase 39 percent in the coming decades because of the effects of climate change and coastal development, according to a new report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office for Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patty Murray. The 2016 hurricane season began Wednesday.
By 2075, annual expected hurricane damages, as well as federal spending for relief and recovery, will likely increase by a third and could be nearly double what we spend today relative to the size of the economy. Annual expected hurricane damages are currently $28 billion, of which roughly $18 billion is covered by the federal government, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Roughly 45 percent of the increase is attributable to climate change and 55 percent to coastal development. Additionally, 10 million Americans will live in areas at risk for significant loss from hurricanes, more than five times the share of Americans who are at risk today.
“Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating harm. Extreme weather disasters like hurricanes will devastate communities and cost the American taxpayers billions of dollars,” Sanders said. “When it comes to addressing climate change, the most expensive option is to do nothing at all. We have a financial and moral obligation to combat climate change. We must aggressively transition away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”
Vermonters know the costs of extreme weather firsthand. Tropical Storm Irene, which began as a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, was one of the Vermont's worst natural disasters ever. The 2011 storm caused torrential flooding that killed six people in the state, forced thousands from their homes and washed away hundreds of bridges and roads.
“Just five years ago, no one thought a northern state like Vermont would be hit by such a strong tropical storm,” Sanders said. “But that’s what happened, and it caused nearly $1 billion in damage in our small state. This report confirms that Irene may have been the first such storm to hit Vermont, but it likely won’t be the last.”
Contact: Dan McLean: (802) 862-0697