Tuesday, February 17, 2009

UO reports $3.3 billion annual cost of climate change inaction

Taking a business-as-usual approach to climate change will cost Oregonians at least $3.3 billion a year, or $1,930 per household by 2020, according to a report released today by EcoNorthwest and the University of Oregon Climate Leadership Initiative's program on climate economics. The report is meant to complement previous studies that calculated the cost of implementing climate change mitigation, such as a proposed cap and trade system under Senate Bill 80 .

Potential costs were divided into seven categories, with public health taking the largest hit at $688 million in additional annual costs by 2020 due to increased ozone levels and rising average temperatures. Energy production will also suffer as a result of the forecasted effects of climate change with a potential reduction in summer runoffs leading to lower hydropower generation at a cost of $74 million a year. Higher temperatures will also require more energy for air conditioning, which could cost an extra $16 million per year and will make electrical transmission less efficient costing $29 million per year by 2020.

Many potential effects are missing from the report, as the authors acknowledge, saying there wasn't yet enough data to accurately assess the costs. One example that springs to mind is the potential increased compliance costs for utilities that operate dams. With lower river flows, the dams will be much more likely to fall short of maintaining critical salmon habitat.

No comments: