Exclusive: Climate change could cost US budget $2 trillion a year by end of century, White House says


WASHINGTON, April 3 (Reuters) – Floods, fires and drought fueled by climate change could take a massive toll on the U.S. federal budget every year by the end of the century, the White House said on Sunday in its first-ever assessment of this type. .

The Office of Management and Budget assessment, commissioned by President Joe Biden last May, found that the upper range of the impact of climate change on the budget by the end of the century could total a loss of annual revenue of 7.1%, or $2 trillion a year in today’s dollars. .

“Climate change threatens communities and sectors across the country, including floods, droughts, extreme heat, wildfires, and hurricanes (affecting) the American economy and the lives of ordinary Americans,” Candace Vahlsing, head of climate and science at OMB, and its chief economist Danny Yagan, said in a blog seen by Reuters ahead of its release on Monday. “Future damage could eclipse current damage if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.”

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The analysis found that the federal government could spend an additional $25 billion to $128 billion a year on things like coastal disaster relief, flood insurance, crop and health care, suppression of forest fires and flooding at federal facilities.

Last year, a record-breaking heat wave and drought in the western United States sparked two massive wildfires that swept through California and Oregon and were among the largest in the history of both. States. Read more

The severe drought that has plagued parts of the western United States since mid-2020 is expected to persist or worsen this spring, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in March.

US military bases, including Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, have suffered billions of dollars in damage in recent years from floods and hurricanes. Read more

The OMB said the increase in wildfires could increase federal fire suppression costs between $1.55 billion and $9.6 billion annually. Nearly 12,200 federal buildings and structures could be flooded as the seas rise, with replacement costs of nearly $44 billion.

Without policies and actions to slow the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures are poised to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

The OMB’s grim assessment came hours before the publication of a long-awaited report by a United Nations climate science panel on methods of reducing emissions, a report that some scientists say could play down some potentially devastating scenarios due to its consensual nature in which 195 governments had to approve on it.

Biden, a Democrat who positioned himself as a champion in the fight against climate change when he took office in January 2021, has been forced to support rising domestic oil drilling and liquefied natural gas exports to the United States. Europe as Russia’s war on Ukraine drives up energy inflation.

The president’s ‘Build Back Better’ bill, which contained hundreds of billions of dollars in funding to fight climate change and support clean energy, was stalled in the narrowly divided Senate by Republicans and the conservative Democratic senator. of West Virginia Joe Manchin, the founder and co-owner of a private coal brokerage firm. Read more

Biden late last month submitted a $5.8 trillion budget plan to Congress focused on deficit reduction in an apparent overture to Manchin who said he couldn’t vote for the bill because it would make it worse. the deficits. Biden’s budget plan calls for nearly $45 billion to fight climate change in fiscal year 2023, an increase of nearly 60% from fiscal year 2021.

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Reporting by Timothy Gardner Editing by Alistair Bell

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