New Study Assesses Florida's Near-Term Climate Impacts


Jan. 30, 2020

News Type

Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—How will Florida be impacted by climate change—not in 100 years, but in 20? Resources for the Future (RFF) researchers answer this question in the Florida Climate Outlook: Assessing Physical and Economic Impacts through 2040, a comprehensive, visual report on the near-term physical and economic impacts of climate change and climate policy in Florida.

The Florida Climate Outlook, coauthored by Daniel Raimi, Amelia Keyes, and Cora Kingdon, takes a novel approach in synthesizing new and existing research on Florida’s climate future in the next 20 years, and showcases results from RFF’s innovative modeling on the distribution of climate impacts.

Based on plausible emissions and sea level rise scenarios, the authors assess the physical and economic impacts of climate change—including its effects on storms, human mortality, and agriculture—along with the economic impacts national climate policies would have on Florida households. Throughout the report, accessible infographics illustrate the findings, highlighting key impacts and considerations.

The report’s vital findings have a direct relevance to Floridians:

  • Severe “100-year floods” will potentially occur once every few years rather than once a century, endangering about 300,000 homes, 2,500 miles of roadways, 30 schools, and four hospitals statewide.
  • Rising seas also threaten the 490,000 Floridians who live on land less than 3 feet above the high-water mark, and coastal properties worth an estimated $145 billion in property value. The counties with the largest number of people facing these risks are Miami-Dade, Broward, Pinellas, Monroe, and Hillsborough.
  • In some areas—the Keys in particular—it is unlikely that communities will be able to meet the costs of raising all public roadways to accommodate higher sea levels by 2045, suggesting that some roads and neighborhoods will need to be abandoned.
  • Miami has over $400 billion in assets put at risk by coastal flooding and storms—the largest amount of any major coastal city in the world.
  • Extreme temperatures and other impacts will seriously affect public health. In a moderate emissions scenario, the rate of mortality is projected to increase by 3.8 deaths per 100,000 Florida residents per year—that’s roughly 1,000 additional deaths annually by 2035.
  • Federal carbon pricing policies, which would reduce these risks, are projected to cost less than $1,000 annually for Florida households earning under $99,000 per year, with costs for higher earners reaching as high as $5,000 annually.

These negative impacts are stark, but they’re not inevitable.

“Addressing climate change has up-front costs," say Raimi, Keyes, and Kingdon. "But failing to address climate change? Those costs are likely to be much greater and long lasting.”

This work was supported by the VoLo Foundation.

Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonprofit research institution in Washington, DC. Its mission is to improve environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. RFF is committed to being the most widely trusted source of research insights and policy solutions leading to a healthy environment and a thriving economy.

Unless otherwise stated, the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and may differ from those of other RFF experts, its officers, or its directors. RFF does not take positions on specific legislative proposals.

For more information, please see our media resources page or contact Media Relations and Communications Specialist Annie McDarris.

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