Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers

Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers

When we examine the full costs of public programs that pay for disaster relief and recovery from extreme weather events—ad hoc disaster assistance appropriations, flood insurance, crop insurance, wildfire protection, and state run “residual market” insurance programs—we can begin to understand the price to U.S. taxpayers of inaction on climate change.

As the frequency and severity of extreme weather events intensify with the effects of climate change, our federal and state disaster relief and insurance programs will become increasingly unsustainable as losses from such events increase. The net present value of the federal government’s liability for unfunded disaster assistance over the next 75 years could be greater than the net present value of the unfunded liability for the social security program.

Boosting our resiliency to today’s extreme weather events is an urgent priority. Investing concurrently in forward-looking measures that over time will reduce the climate-altering carbon emissions contributing to extreme weather is essential to our long-term physical and economic well-being.

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