Climate Change Economics

The Cost of Climate Change in 2050

Higher seas mean greater financial exposure for coastal cities, where populations are growing and the value of buildings and infrastructure is increasing. More frequent flooding would likely disrupt insurance underwriting and with it the financing that drives development in cities such as Miami. If sea levels rose just 16 inches by 2050, the flood damage in port cities could cost a trillion dollars a year. With ingenuity and significant investment, new fortifications might limit flooding, but cities would need to keep improving and maintaining them. Inevitably an extreme weather event would overwhelm defenses. World Bank researcher Stéphane Hallegatte, who has estimated how much such events could cost urban areas at midcentury, says, “Protection protects us until it fails.”