Economics of Climate Change

Economics of Climate Change

Alex Score
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 2
Session Type: 
Tools and Posters

This session will explore the economic impacts of climate-related hazards on businesses and communities, and share strategies to minimize future losses and maintain continuity of operations. The presentations will highlight the role of private sector companies in developing products to allow for climate-informed decision making and describe innovative financing options to support adaptation.


Not Just a Nuisance: The Economic Impact of High-Tide Flooding
Samanthe Tiver Belanger, Stanford University
  • Miyuki Hino, Stanford University
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As global sea levels rise, coastal communities are flooding more and more often. These high-tide floods, also called sunny-day or nuisance floods, cause road closures, threaten public health and safety, and more. When securing funding for adaptation measures, officials often perform cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate the value of their proposed investment. However, traditional flood damage estimation techniques focus on physical damage to buildings and extended business closures, making them poorly suited for high-tide flooding.

Annapolis, Maryland is one community heavily affected by high-tide floods. With each flood, the tourist hub comes to a standstill. Annapolis city officials are concerned about the impact of these frequent floods on the economic vitality of the downtown business district. We present a case study of the impacts of high-tide flooding, using a novel combination of data sources and empirical methods. Working with city officials, we pinpointed key areas of concern and used video and photographic evidence to measure precisely when flooding occurred. Next, we combined flood incidence with data on parking lot visits, water levels, and precipitation to estimate the impact of high-tide flooding on local economic activity.

Our analysis shows that flooding reduces visits to the affected area by 2% at present, and there is no evidence that visits are recovered at other times or in other places. These lost visits translate to approximately $100k in lost revenue in 2017. With three and 12 inches of additional sea level rise, high-tide floods would reduce visits by 4% and 24%, respectively.

State of Rhode Island’s Risk Reduction Guides for Small Business Climate Resiliency
Kelly Knee, Technical Director
  • Caitlin Greeley, RI Department of Administration
  • Dave Murphy, Milone & MacBroom
  • Pamela Rubinoff, Coastal Resources Center - University of Rhode Island
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On behalf of the Rhode Island - Division of Statewide Planning, RPS Group is currently leading a multi-disciplinary team of consultants from different types of organizations representing private, non-profit, and academic to develop customized risk prevention guides for the state’s small business community. Because many businesses in RI are located in areas vulnerable to extreme weather and climate related hazards, providing business owners with customized risk reduction options can help minimize future losses, maintain continuity of operations, and shorten closures. The project team first completed an exposure and vulnerability assessment and developed a series of guides for different business typologies and risk profiles identified through the assessment. Each guide identifies relevant, actionable risk reduction measures for businesses to adapt to extreme weather events and climate change impacts in RI. In order to identify locally relevant climate information, a Steering Committee consisting of representatives from over a dozen state agencies and local organizations has helped define the wind and flood scenarios and assemble the pertinent datasets to characterize weather-related risks to the state’s small business community. The project team has also conducted dozens of site visits to understand site-specific vulnerabilities and engage directly with business owners to get input for and evaluation of the guides. The work is being funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the purpose of developing detailed, actionable recommendations for agencies, including the design of small business resilience programs, and with the goal of minimizing potential losses from extreme events.

Industrial Business Resiliency Planning in New York City
Dylan Sandler, NYC Department of City Planning
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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Department of City Planning undertook the Resilient Industry study to evaluate the vulnerability of industrial businesses to coastal storms and climate change, and propose cost-effective strategies to reduce risk both through physical design and operational improvements. The agency worked directly with eight businesses as case studies to learn from their experience during and follow Hurricane Sandy to guide adaptation of the city's industrial sector.

The presentation will explore challenges of applying broad federal floodplain requirements across the varied building stock and historic development patterns of urban communities, and propose both policy solutions and individual business strategies to ensure that vital industrial businesses are able to remain operational in the face of climate risk.

The Resilient Industry study relied heavily on urban designers as a communication tool to demonstrate adaptation concepts to businesses, which serve as the foundation for case studies in the resulting report: The presentation will draw from these images and diagrams to help audience members visualize a wide range of resilience strategies for industrial businesses.

Investing in Resilience: How do we finance coastal community adaptation?
Kim Mikita Penn, NOAA Office for Coastal Management
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Governments, nonprofits, individuals, businesses and private financiers, among others, make investments in coastal community resilience. Investments are made under the auspices of comprehensive planning, hazard mitigation, climate adaptation, infrastructure resilience, personal safety, and continuity of operations, to name a few. As communities move toward implementing adaptation and resilience strategies, decision-makers regularly point to the need for more substantial, coordinated, sustained and creative funding opportunities to support these efforts. Over the past few years, communities have started exploring innovative partnerships and financing options, including tax credits, permit incentives, new bond structures, insurance rebates, and premium reductions. We highlighted a number of these at NAF 2017. While there are clearly examples of where these tools have been successfully employed, there are few resources to help decision-makers identify and understand innovative options suited to their unique situations. Requests from NOAA partners for this type of information - from leveraging existing resources to pursuing new financing approaches - have been increasing. In response, NOAA is working with ERG to conduct a formal needs assessment of our coastal partners as well as a market analysis to better understand what information is needed, and what resources are already available. Information resulting from this project, and subsequent NOAA tool development, will help coastal communities better invest in their resilience through the development of new partnerships and strategic leveraging of resources.