Climate Costs - 2040

$400 Billion: The Minimum Price to Protect U.S. Coasts in a Warming World

New study reveals billion-dollar costs for U.S. communities to defend against rising seas

How much will it cost to shield your community from chronic flooding by 2040? The Center for Climate Integrity partnered with Resilient Analytics, an engineering firm specializing in climate adaptation, to answer that question for residents across the contiguous United States. The June 2019 study, “High Tide Tax: The Price to Protect Coastal Communities from Rising Seas,” provides the first-ever planning-level estimates of the costs to build seawalls to protect infrastructure, property and lives in coastal and tidal communities in the lower 48 states from climate-driven sea-level rise.

“High Tide Tax” measures these bare-bones costs under a near-term, moderate sea-level rise scenario to unveil just a small portion of a much wider range of costs governments will have to address in preparation for climate impacts. The hundreds of billions referenced above speak only to one necessary aspect of adapting to sea-level rise, and do not include the price to prepare for increased precipitation and inland flooding, more frequent wildfires, drought, and severe heat, or disaster recovery from extreme weather events that pose risks to businesses, livelihoods, public health, and more.

Download the full study and the data it produced here.

Snapshot of Damages

$76 Billion. 9,243 miles of seawalls.

That’s the price to protect Florida, the state facing the highest costs in the U.S., from rising seas by 2040.

$1.1 Billion. 133 miles of seawalls.

That’s the baseline cost to protect Galveston, Texas from moderate sea-level rise by 2040.

$3.3 Billion. 235 miles of seawalls.

That’s the bare-bones bill for defense against rising seas in Grays Harbor County, Washington by 2040.

Who’s going to pay: taxpayers or climate polluters?

$1 Billion+ for over 130 counties. More than $100,000 per person in 178 communities. Taxpayers and homeowners are currently responsible for the entirety of these colossal bills, along with every other expenditure related to climate adaptation and resilience.

The status quo has traditionally left state and local governments with two options: raise taxes or make drastic budget cuts to existing public services as costs continue to climb. But there is another path forward.

As early as 1968, Big Oil and Gas companies predicted that burning fossil fuels would lead to a global climate catastrophe. Instead of warning consumers or adjusting business models in response, they ramped up production and spent millions to spread misinformation and downplay the threat. While ensuring the safety of their own assets, fossil fuel giants are now arguing in courtrooms across the country that they should pay nothing to protect the communities they put at risk.

Taxpayers cannot, and should not shoulder the entire financial burden for climate-related damages. Climate polluters must pay their fair share.