Insurance and Climate Change column

Voters OK’d Local Measures to Fight Climate Change

By | November 5, 2020

Local governments are increasingly taking it upon themselves to address climate change.

Denver voters on election day passed Measure 2A, which would raise city sales tax by 0.25% starting in January with the goal of reducing the city’s climate footprint, a move the Denver Climate Action Task Force estimates will raise $36 million annually, Denver news site KUNC reported.

Beside reducing carbon footprint, the funds will be used to generate jobs in “renewable energy, carbon-free transit, and improving energy efficiency in homes,” with city officials aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in the next five years.

A $100M bond tied to climate change was approved by voters of Key Biscayne, Fla.

Roughly $40 million could go toward mitigating the effects of sea level rise and flooding, $23 million would be for protecting beaches and shoreline, and more than $49 million would go to harden and place infrastructure underground to withstand hurricanes, according to the real estate news site The Real Deal.

This is all part of an ongoing trend.

Communities throughout Florida are taking action on sea level rise, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in July signed a slew of new laws to address climate issues, and require sea level study for construction. Sea level rise caused record water highs during the seasonal king tides in Palm Beach, Fla. King tides are the highest predicted tide of the year. A report out earlier this year stated that Florida would see noticeable climate change impacts over the next 20 years.

Warmest Year

This year may be to be the warmest year on record since the collection of reliable records in the mid-1800s, according to a “Carbon Brief” issued this week.

“The scientist wrote that in the first nine months of 2020, there were record concentrations of greenhouse gases including methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide,” states an article this week in the Financial Express. “Meanwhile, most of the summer saw the Arctic sea ice extent at record low levels and the summer minimum was the second lowest ever recorded, behind only 2012.”

Researchers looked at the analysis of six different research teams, including those from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Berkeley Earth, and found record warmth in surface temperatures. Since 1970, the surface temperature has risen about 0.9 degrees C, which translates to a warming rate of around 0.18 degrees C per decade, while in 2020 several months have seen record temperatures, the Financial Express article states.

An independent analysis issued earlier this year of NASA and NOAA data shows the planet’s average global surface temperature in 2019 was the second warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880. Globally, 2019’s average temperature was second only to that of 2016 and continued the planet’s long-term warming trend, while the past five years have been the warmest of the last 140 years.

Paris Agreement

The U.S. officially became the first nation to quit the Paris climate agreement.

President Donald Trump, who’s still fighting for re-election, moved to withdraw from the landmark environmental accord exactly one year ago, abandoning a global effort to curb carbon emissions and slow global warming. The U.S. exit formally took effect Wednesday, the day after the vote, according to a Bloomberg article in Insurance Journal this week.

If Biden wins, the move would likely be undone.

However, Trump has spent the past four years promoting fossil fuels, rolling back environmental regulations and denigrating climate science, and the president is likely to spend a second term further hindering efforts to curb carbon emissions, according to the Bloomberg article.

The central aim of the Paris Agreement was to mount a global response to the climate change threat by keeping a global this century below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. The agreement, which was entered into in November 2016, calls for all parties to take stock of the collective efforts in relation to progress towards the goal set in the agreement.

Climate Liability

Bloomberg is also reporting there will be consequences for bucking global trends on addressing climate change.

The Bloomberg article highlights the situation the nation is in now:

“Now, the U.S. has essentially no role in global climate discussions, no input, and no leadership. That’s unfortunate, but more importantly for the global climate—and for global business—are the developments underway without U.S. input at all.”

The consequences of pulling out stem from the lack of a plan to eliminate net carbon emissions, which creates an unfunded liability for companies.

“Whether that plan is international and set by treaties and agreements or voluntary and set by a board of directors, it prepares companies for a world in which more and more governments and corporations are drawing down emissions,” the article states.

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