June 15, 2009


Gerald Karnas, 941-587-1803, gkarnas@edf.org
Sharyn Stein, (202) 572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Sarasota, FL – June 15, 2009) A new economic analysis of a national cap on carbon pollution shows that even under worst-case scenarios the cost to Florida’s economy would be “very modest or even negligible” – costs that are far outweighed by potential damages to the state’s economy if no action is taken to curtail climate change. 

The report, The Florida Economy and a Federal Carbon Cap: a Quantitative Analysis, uses state-of-the-art economic modeling to assess the impact of a national carbon cap on the Florida economy. It found that even under the most conservative estimates, a national carbon cap would slow the growth of Florida’s Gross State Product only a minute amount by 2025. Florida’s economy is predicted to grow from $809 billion today to about $1.5 trillion in 18 years; the study finds that under a carbon cap, Florida would reach that same level of growth a mere eight weeks later than it would in a cap’s absence.

“We did a very conservative analysis, and still found that the Florida economy could thrive under a carbon cap,” said lead author David Roland-Holst, Ph.D., of the University of California at Berkeley. “For instance, we pessimistically assumed that a carbon cap would not induce any new technologies or business innovations. Of course this flies in the face of history, where we have been reminded over and over again that necessity is the mother of invention. It’s much more likely that a carbon cap will create a burst of technological creativity. By taking early action, Florida can capture these innovation benefits and establish technology standards for the rest of the country stimulating new business opportunities for Florida’s economy.”

The report also does not factor in another huge economic factor – the cost of inaction.

“The additional costs of damage from worsening global warming could be devastating for Florida’s economy,” said Roland-Holst. “The costs of reconstruction after stronger hurricanes, defensive coastal infrastructure, etc., would be a huge expense to the state. We deliberately omitted the costs of inaction to keep our analysis as conservative as possible, but if you look at the bigger picture, you see what a cost-effective strategy a carbon cap really is.”

Florida is already working at the state level to fight climate change. Governor Charlie Crist announced a series of initiatives in 2007 to reduce Florida’s greenhouse gas emissions, and last year the Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change unanimously recommended that Florida “advocate for” a “strong national cap-and-trade program” as the most effective way to take action against climate change. “This report further underscores the urgency and efficacy of passing a national cap on greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kathleen Shanahan, CEO of WRS Compass and former member of Governor Crist’s Climate and Energy Action Team. Federal climate legislation is expected to reach the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in late June or early July (the American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454).

“Florida has been a leader in the fight against global warming, but there have been some questions about whether a national carbon cap would be good for the state,” said Gerald Karnas, Director of the Florida Climate Project at the Environmental Defense Fund, which commissioned the report. “This report shows that a national cap on carbon is the right move for Florida. A cap will help protect us from the damage caused by climate change, it will move us towards energy independence, and it will help boost the economy and create jobs across America – including right here in our state. We’ll get all those benefits in exchange for two months worth of patience. That’s the best investment we can make.”

The full report is available at http://are.berkeley.edu/~dwrh/CERES_Web/index.html