Weather events may have cost the US federal government over $350 billion

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) – an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress – is citing White House figures on the potential economic effects of climate change and urging the Trump administration to use such information to identify significant climate risks and craft appropriate federal responses. The GAO report points to estimates that indicate the US federal government has incurred more than $350 billion (£265 billion) in direct costs due to extreme weather and fire events. It warns that the impacts and price tags associated with such incidents will increase significantly as what are considered rare events become more common and intense because of climate change.

The report highlights results from a November 2016 assessment by the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Council of Economic Advisers indicating that recurring costs to the federal government as a result of climate change could grow by $12 billion to $35 billion per year by mid-century and by $34 billion to $112 billion per year by late-century. These estimates should be considered and incorporated into the decision-making processes of the Trump administration, particularly the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the GAO suggests. However, currently there is no permanent leader at OSTP, and the administration’s actions on climate change have drawn fire from scientists and research advocates. For example, the president has said the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord and discontinue President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that set the first-ever limits on carbon emissions from US coal-fired power plants.