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Climate change will add nearly $6 billion to Ohio communities' budgets by 2050, report says

A wind turbine in downtown Cleveland, installed in 2006 at the Great Lakes Science Center by Cleveland Public Power.
Henryk Sadura
A wind turbine in downtown Cleveland, installed in 2006 at the Great Lakes Science Center by Cleveland Public Power.

Local governments in Ohio will spend billions of dollars dealing with the varied impacts of climate change by the middle of the century, according to a study done for a clean energy group and the state’s largest environmental activism organization.

The report from the research group Scioto Analysis, working with the Ohio Environmental Council and Power A Clean Future, said communities will have to treat drinking water, raise roads to avoid flooding, build cooling centers and put air conditioning in schools, and will have higher roofing, electrical and road repair costs, along with recovering from storms and managing stormwater and power lines.

“The total cost of just these ten measures that we looked at, just these ten impacts, will be somewhere between $1.8 billion and $5.9 billion in new and needed spending per year by mid-century in order to deal with the impacts of climate change," Moore said.

“These are costs that are likely going to be incurred by local governments unless there is a massive reduction in carbon emissions soon by governments across the world.”

The report breaks down the costs:

  • Elevating roads to avoid flooding ($860 million to $1.7 billion)
  • Drinking water treatment ($580 million to $2.2 billion)
  • Road repair ($170 million to $1 billion)
  • Cooling centers ($52 million to $590 million)
  • Stormwater management ($140 million to $150 million)
  • Electrical costs ($5.4 million to $79 million)
  • Storm recovery ($35 million to $78 million)
  • Air conditioning installation for schools ($1.4 million to $6.8 million)
  • Cool roofing ($0 to $4.6 million)
  • Power line maintenance ($140,000 to $18 million)

The report said "this represents a 26 to 82 percent increase of current spending levels for environment and housing programs for local governments in Ohio over a 2019 baseline." And while the costs are estimated to start in mid-century, it said they are likely to start accumulating rather than appearing all at once.
The study also identified another 40 impacts but didn't include them in the overall total estimate.

The report notes some communities are trying to reduce emissions, but also suggests they’ll have to raise taxes, ask for more federal funds and sue polluters to pay the extra costs.

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