Jul 26, 2022 - Business

Climate change could cost Ohio billions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Ohio municipalities will have to spend between $2 and $6 billion annually by 2050 to keep up with the effects of climate change.

Driving the news: Growing electricity usage, road repairs, stormwater management and power line maintenance are among the likely-to-balloon expenses highlighted in a new report sponsored by the Ohio Environmental Council and Power a Clean Future Ohio.

  • The increase is projected to be 26% to 82% higher than spending levels in 2019.

Why it matters: As temperatures increase, extreme and disruptive weather like last month's power-stopping storms are only expected to become more frequent.

  • The cost of addressing it could fall onto taxpayers, the report cautions.

Threat level: Columbus continues to get hotter. Our annual average temperature is up 3.7 degrees since 1970.

Zoom in: The environmental report used Columbus City Schools to illustrate the impact of prolonged heat on urban districts, including canceled classes.

  • All Columbus classrooms are slated to be air-conditioned for the first time this academic year, following several years of renovations.
  • The price tag: $1 to $5 million per building.

Zoom out: The largest anticipated statewide expense — an estimated $580 million to $2.2 billion annually — is protecting drinking water from Lake Erie's harmful algal blooms, caused by warmer water and heavy rain.

  • Other high-cost items include elevating roads to avoid flooding and operating more cooling centers to help residents escape heat.

What they're saying: "Unless we see drastic changes at every level of government to address carbon emissions in the next few years, these impacts will only continue to worsen — and the cost to address them will skyrocket," the report's authors say.

The bottom line: It's getting hotter. If that doesn't change, the consequences could be dire and expensive.


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