The US Economic Impacts of Climate Change and the Costs of Inaction

This report presents a review of economic studies for the U.S., as related to some predicted impacts of climate change. The "costs of inaction" are evaluated - how a failure to reduce greenhouse gases can make response and adaptation to climate impacts even more expensive. The analysis is not focused on the costs of controlling emissions, rather it considers resultant expenses, such as rebuilding communities and other ripple economic effects on many sectors, in order to develop a more comprehensive estimate of financial impact.

The summary findings are organized by region and identify the key sectors likely to be affected by climate change, the main impacts to be expected, as well as estimates of costs. Impacts are organized in regional summaries for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Great Plains, the West, Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Hawaii and U.S. Affiliated Islands. 

Five key lessons are identified from this research and are detailed in the report:

1. Economic impacts of climate change will occur throughout the country.
2. Economic impacts will be unevenly distributed across regions and within the economy and society.
3. Negative climate impacts will outweigh benefits for most sectors that provide essential goods and services to society.
4. Climate change impacts will place immense strains on public sector budgets.
5. Secondary effects of climate impacts can include higher prices, reduced income and job losses.

The research for this publication was conducted by CIER, the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Environmental Research. (See additional entry for this organization in this Clearinghouse.) 

Publication Date: October 2007

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Matthias Ruth
  • Dana Coelho
  • Daria Karetnikov

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment

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