Sort by
Press release/statement

New VA Report: Climate Change Puts Virginians At Risk

New York – In advance of Earth Day, a new research brief from nonpartisan public policy organization Demos sounds an essential wake up call for Virginia’s policymakers and voters: “The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Climate Change in Virginia,” lays out how Virginians’ health, economy, and environment are already suffering the effects of climate change and how prolonged inaction on climate change promises dire consequences in the coming decades.

Read “The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Climate Change in Virginia” Here

As the report explains, Virginia is already experiencing increased temperatures and volatility in precipitation due to climate change, and these trends are expected to accelerate and be exacerbated by other factors.  For example, as Virginia’s population grows and commercial and real estate development along coastal zones rise, the potential loss from any given storm is estimated to double in each decade, leading to staggering economic costs: In 2003 Hurricane Isabel did an estimated $5.5 billion dollars in damages to the Hampton Roads region, even though the region was not directly hit.

“The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Climate Change in Virginia” details a range of economic, environmental, and health risks associated with climate change, including:  

  • In Virginia’s cities, “heat island” effects will be intensified by higher nighttime temperatures. Elderly people, who are becoming a higher and higher percentage of the population, are particularly vulnerable because they are less able to effectively regulate body temperature, and often live alone without air conditioning.
  • Over the course of this century, scientists predict that the CO2 content of Chesapeake Bay waters will increase by 50-150 percent, leading to higher acidity. Water temperatures will rise by 2-6 degrees centigrade and water levels will increase by 0.7 to 1.6 meters and possibly much more if emissions grow rapidly. These changes will wreck havoc on a sensitive ecosystem, like the Bay.
  • Climate change will likely cause more intense storm surges in VA. The US Navy and Air Force, which have spent many millions of dollars to harden their facilities against flooding, are taking climate change into account in plans for the future of their bases in the region.

The report is authored by Robert Repetto, author of the 2011 book America’s Climate Problem: The Way Forward. He is a Senior Fellow in the United Nations Foundation’s climate and energy program. In the report, Repetto calls for the implementation of Governor Tim Kaine’s Climate Change Commission recommendations to improve Virginia’s energy efficiency, to mitigate and sequester greenhouse gas emissions and to promote effective adaptation.

“A serious commitment to combating climate change is the only way to spare Virginia’s state economy and natural environment the painful fate that’s beginning to be played out now,” explained Dr. Mijin Cha, Senior Policy Analyst at Demos. “When policies are being drafted, leaders must consider the real long-term environmental and economic impact our decision will have. Short-sighted planning has gotten Virginia where it is today, and it is not where it can afford to be tomorrow.”

To speak with Dr. Cha or the author, see contact information above.