Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
June 2020

Climate Change Is Here, but Who Is Paying for It?

Climate Change Is Here, but Who Is Paying for It? Cover

In an era of increased political polarization and decreased confidence in national institutions, many bold initiatives have stalled or met an untimely end. This abdication of federal responsibility is no more evident than the ongoing response to COVID-19. Strategic response to the pandemic has largely shifted from the White House to governors’ mansions. 

A renewed era of federalism is beginning to take shape, and it is important to consider potential ramifications in other pressing areas—specifically climate change. State and local governments have advanced their own initiatives on climate change when faced with a failure of federal leadership. States have launched climate strategies to combat this growing threat both individually and in coalition. However, in order to mitigate and develop resiliency to climate change, much more needs to be done. This analysis will look at one aspect of the challenge: understanding costs.

Resource management for states with ever-thin operational budgets is already logistically daunting without the massive investment in preventative measures needed to meaningfully combat climate change. Where do they start? Do states across the board have the technical capacity to understand what impacts they have already been facing? The resounding answer at this current moment is no.