US report says climate change will batter economy, in clash with Trump

Trump (above) announced in 2017 his intention to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris Deal agreed by nearly 200 nations to combat climate change.
Trump (above) announced in 2017 his intention to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris Deal agreed by nearly 200 nations to combat climate change.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Climate change will cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century, damaging everything from human health to infrastructure and agricultural production, according to a government report issued on Friday (Nov 23).

The White House dismissed the congressionally mandated reported as inaccurate.

The report, written with the help of more than a dozen US government agencies and departments, outlined the projected impact of global warming in every corner of American society, in a dire warning that is at odds with the Trump administration's pro-fossil-fuels agenda.

"With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century - more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many US states," the report, the Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II, said.

Global warming would disproportionately hurt the poor, broadly undermine human health, damage infrastructure, limit the availability of water, alter coastlines, and boost costs in industries from farming, to fisheries and energy production, the report said.

But the report said that if greenhouse gas emissions are sharply curbed, projections of further damage could change, even though many of the impacts of climate change - including more frequent and more powerful storms, droughts and flooding - are already under way.

"Future risks from climate change depend primarily on decisions made today," it said.

The report supplements a study issued last year that concluded humans are the main driver of global warming and warned of potentially catastrophic effects to the planet.

The studies clash with policy under President Donald Trump, who has been rolling back Obama-era environmental and climate protections to maximise production of domestic fossil fuels, including crude oil, already the highest in the world, above Saudi Arabia and Russia.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the new report was "largely based on the most extreme scenario, which contradicts long-established trends by assuming that...there would be limited technology and innovation, and a rapidly expanding population."

 

The government's next update of the National Climate Assessment, she said, "gives us the opportunity to provide for a more transparent and data-driven process that includes fuller information on the range of potential scenarios and outcomes."

Trump last year announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Deal agreed by nearly 200 nations to combat climate change, arguing the accord would hurt the US economy and provide little tangible environmental benefit.

Trump and several members of his Cabinet have also repeatedly cast doubt on the science of climate change, arguing that the causes and impacts are not yet settled.

Environmental groups said the report reinforced their calls for the United States to take action on climate change.

"While President Trump continues to ignore the threat of climate change, his own administration is sounding the alarm,"said Abigail Dillen, president of environmental group Earthjustice. "This report underscores what we are already seeing firsthand: climate change is real, it's happening here, and it's happening now."

Previous research, including from US government scientists, has also concluded that climate change could have severe economic consequences, including damage to infrastructure, water supplies and agriculture.

Severe weather and other impacts also increase the risk of disease transmission, decrease air quality, and can increase mental health problems, among other effects.

Thirteen government departments and agencies, from the Agriculture Department to Nasa, were part of the committee that compiled the new report.

The entire report can be viewed at www.globalchange.gov.