Congressional Budget Office Calls For Climate Action
In a new report released ahead of hurricane season, the Congressional Budget Office identified climate change as a major hit on the federal budget. The report, from the non-partisan CBO led by a GOP-appointed director, warns of the fiscal risks associated with leaving climate change unaddressed. Specifically, the legislative research agency notes that federal spending on hurricanes alone will increase to $65 billion per year in 2075, and at least 45 percent of that increase can be attributed to climate change. Here are three things you need to know:
1. The CBO is acknowledging human-caused climate change, in stark contrast to nearly 200 congressional Republicans. The report notes that “Human activities around the world — primarily the burning of fossil fuels and widespread changes in land use — are producing growing emissions of greenhouse gases.”
2. The agency also notes the need to take action against the growing threat of climate change at home. While President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency developed the Clean Power Plan, placing the first ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, congressional Republicans have vowed to fight it. The plan sets pollution reduction standards specific to individual states and gives them the flexibility to develop a plan to meet those reductions in a way that works for their electric portfolio.
3. Finally, the agency calls for global efforts to limit the pollution driving climate change. U.S. action alone won’t be enough to quell the costly impacts of climate change, which is why the U.S. led the world in developing the Paris Agreement. It’s the largest ever global accord to finally reduce carbon pollution and take steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
However, there are still politicians angling to undermine U.S. leadership by blocking commonsense climate and fiscal policy.
West Virginia and 26 other states are suing the EPA in an effort to block the Clean Power Plan, and some conservatives have called for removing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. However, many of the states that are suing are going to be among the worst affected by more severe hurricanes driven by a changing climate. The top states projected by CBO that will be impacted by increased costs of damage from hurricanes are Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. Florida alone may bear more than half the total damages.
With current population growth projections, the CBO says that in 2075 more than 10 million people nationwide will be living in counties with the potential for severe hurricane damage, compared with only 1.2 million people today. Not only will we have to spend more money to clean up after these damaging hurricanes, but more and more American lives and livelihoods will be in the path of these storms.
BOTTOM LINE: While nearly 200 members of Congress still deny climate science, their top budget analysts are warning that Americans will pay the price without strong action on climate change today. An increase in more severe hurricanes will cost the federal government billions, and that doesn’t even include the costs states, localities, and households will have to pay. This issue is no longer about ice caps and polar bears – climate change has real consequences for all Americans, from natural disasters, to health, to our government’s spending. We are overdue for action and running out of time, and it past time to stop denying we even have a problem.
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