By Allison Meade, Resilient Virginia Intern,
and Rising Senior, Cornell University Biology and Society Major
Recent updates to the Resources portion of the Resilient Virginia website have allowed for the inclusion of three economic assessments related to climate change. These reports, which were written and published by well-known names such as Michael Bloomberg and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, approach the economic impact of climate change by assessing the risks presented and costs of inaction.
The first of the three is called Risky Business, The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States. It was published in June 2014 and co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson Jr. and Thomas Steyer. The report introduces climate risk by region, covering the continental U.S. as well as Alaska and Hawaii, and explores next steps to take in risk management. The research used for the report combines peer-reviewed climate science projections through 2100 and derived estimates of the impacts of the projected changes in temperature, precipitation, sea levels, and storm activity on the national economy (Risky Business).
The second report was produced in November 2015 by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and is entitled Climate Change: Cost of Inaction for Maryland’s Economy. The report builds on their publication, American Climate Prospectus, in estimating how climate change will affect infrastructure, tourism, ecosystems, agriculture, water resources, and human health. The report also includes an updated version of the costs of inaction that were previously in the Maryland Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
The third economic assessment resource was produced as a Grosvenor Research Report in April 2015 and is called Resilient Cities. As a private property group, Grosvenor conducted this research to help their clients move beyond classic definitions of property risk, and fully take into account the shifting patterns contributing to the uncertain future of real estate across the globe. The report quantifies the resilience of 50 of the most important cities in the world, based on two key components of resiliency: vulnerability and adaptive capacity.
With regard to vulnerability, the study analyzed five different themes. First, cities were assessed for vulnerability to physical events resulting from climate change, including sea level change, hurricanes and typhoons, floods, droughts, and mass movements of populations. Under the second theme, environment, threats from all types of pollution and overconsumption of resources were measured. The third theme included a measurement of each city’s ability to provide access to food, energy, and water at a reasonable cost. Fourth, the cities were evaluated according to their level of housing and transport infrastructure along with basic utilities. Lastly, each city’s internal tensions were assessed with regard to factors such as affordable housing, education and health, religious and cultural freedom, crime-free living conditions, and business environments.
The adaptive capacity component was also based on five areas of city performance. First, the cities were evaluated for democratic governing, freedom of speech and community involvement. Second, cities were assessed based on long-term projects and the associated groups involved. Third, the technical advancement of each city was evaluated through existing monitoring organizations and the technical expertise of institutions. Disaster management programs were evaluated in the fourth area of city performance, making budget resources and funding the last assessment theme for adaptive capacity.
Based on the five areas of each component, cities were placed on a ranking scale for both vulnerability and adaptive capacity, and an overall scale combining both. The study concluded that the top three most resilient cities are located in Canada, with two U.S. cities following close behind. The study also concluded that the cities that will be facing the strain of great population growth in the future are also those with the least adaptive capacities.
Each of these articles can be found under the publications section of the resources tab on the Resilient Virginia website.