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Rep. Cleaver Holds Subcommittee Hearing to Shed Light on Economic Costs and National Security Risks of Climate Change

Sep 11, 2019
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – As chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy, United States Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) today held a subcommittee hearing entitled “Examining the Macroeconomic Impact of a Changing Climate.” The hearing was called to examine how Climate Change is already impacting America’s economy and national security, as well as the extraordinary costs that are expected to arise as the planet’s climate continues to warm.

“As we’ve seen over the last decade, increasingly powerful hurricanes, sea level rise, wildfires, drought, and other symptoms of a changing climate are draining critical economic resources and creating new risks for our security apparatus,” said Congressman Cleaver. “The facts could not be more clear. The Earth’s climate is changing rapidly, human beings are responsible for that change, and we’re going to have to evolve with these truths. We can either be proactive and address climate change by innovating and incentivizing clean energy technology that would create millions of jobs, or we can be reactive and continue to pay billions of dollars in disaster relief year after year. I think the choice is clear.”

According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, global climate change is occurring more rapidly than at any point in history, primarily because of human activities accentuating the release of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The varied impacts of climate change are evident in every region of the United States and have had an adverse effect on the macroeconomy. If uninterrupted, these impacts will continue mount as time continues. Labor force displacement, rising sea level, decreased crop yields, and infrastructure damage are but a few examples of the substantial expected consequences of climate change. These costs are not unique to the United States, as countries around the world are expected to face similar consequences, which is likely to have a major impact on the global economy, U.S. national security, and international stability.

Projections have shown the United States could lose up to 10.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100 due to climate change. According to the fourth National Climate Assessment, “annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century,” provided emissions continue to grow at historic rates. Scholars at the University of California Berkeley noted that “by 2050, between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of existing coastal property nationwide will likely be below sea level” and that “some states in the Southeast, lower Great Plains, and Midwest risk up to a 50% to 70% loss in average annual crop yields.”

“We cannot continue to allow the issue of climate change to be entirely politicized. The consequences for future generations are too dire,” said Congressman Cleaver. “If we are going to stem the economic and humanitarian calamity that will come with a rapidly warming climate, we have got to start implementing bold policies that will decarbonize industry on a global scale. It’s not too late to save the planet from global catastrophe, but we must accept the science and we must do so now.”

The following witnesses testified before the committee:

- Andy Karsner, Board Member, Conservation International

- Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.), President of the American Security Project

- Veronica Eady, Assistant Executive Officer for Environmental Justice of the California Air Resources Board

- Alicia Seiger, Managing Director of Stanford’s Sustainable Finance Initiative

- Dr. Marshall Burke, Assistant Professor and Deputy Director of Stanford’s Center on Food Security and the Environment

- Richard Powell, Executive Director, ClearPath

- John Kotek, Vice President of Policy Development and Public Affairs, Nuclear Energy Institute

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matthew Helfant at 202-225-4535 or A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.