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Climate change, rising sea levels to increase cost of flood damage by $34B in coming decades: Report

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By JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — The cost of climate change is becoming increasingly clear as researchers study the adverse effects of rising sea levels on society.

As the climate warms, the glaciers and ice sheets around the world will melt, causing sea levels to rise and leading to disastrous consequences for coastal cities in the coming decades, according to a new report titled “The Cost of Climate” by research and technology nonprofit First Street Foundation.

By 2051, the cost of flood damage is expected to increase by 61%, or $32 billion, according to researchers, who analyzed the economic impact of underestimated flood risk to properties throughout the U.S.

Nearly 4.3 million residential homes across the country are threatened with “substantial” flood risk that would result in financial loss, the study found. If all of these homes were insured against flood risk through the National Flood Insurance Program, rates would increase 4.5 times to cover the estimated risk in 2021 and the growing risk by 2051.

When factoring in climate projections for the next three decades, the report estimates a 61% increase in annual loss, or $7,563 per property.

The damage estimates are a “probabilistic set of expectations” based on expected flooding events, according to the research.

Between 2010 and 2018, the cost of flood damage was about $17 billion a year, according to a 2020 testimony by Michael Grimm, FEMA’s then-administrator for risk management.

“Accurate, comprehensive and publicly available” estimates of annual flood damages will be necessary to improve risk management and implement more cost-effective planning to mitigate hazards, according to the research.

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