Climate Change, Part IV: Current Economic Effects of Climate Change and the Costs of Inaction

Meeting Notes: 
This was a briefing.
Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 3:00pm
2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
“Climate Change, Part IV: Current Economic Effects of Climate Change and the Costs of Inaction”


  • The Subcommittee will examine the current and future economic impacts of global warming as well as the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the work of prior administrations to address climate change through economic policies.
  • The hearing will also examine the costs of rising greenhouse gas emissions on specific sectors of the U.S. economy, including homeowners’ insurance, disaster insurance, real estate, and agriculture.


  • Americans are already paying the costs of climate change and these costs will continue to rise, as long as greenhouse gas emissions continue. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that, as of December 2018, climate change has cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $430 billion in disaster assistance since 2005.
  • The Trump Administration has made numerous efforts to undermine previous administrations’ attempts to combat climate change through economic policies. Under the Obama Administration, the social cost of carbon (SCC) included in its calculation the cost of carbon emission across the globe, which led to higher values; the Trump Administration excludes all but domestic costs, leading to a significantly lower SCC. As a result, the Obama Administration estimated that cost of one ton of emissions of carbon dioxide in 2020 to be approximately $45, while the current administration estimates it at “between $1 and $6.”
  • The lack of federal action on climate change hinders state and local efforts to address the climate crisis. In response to the Trump Administration’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan, another major effort by President Obama to address climate change, mayors from 233 U.S. cities sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, writing: “[W]e cannot act alone. We need the federal government to provide a path forward to making meaningful reductions in carbon pollution while preparing for the impacts of climate change.”


Alfredo Gomez
Natural Resources and Environment Team
Government Accountability Office

Dave Jones
Senior Director for Environmental Risk
The Nature Conservancy

Dr. Michael Greenstone
Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics
University of Chicago

The Honorable Stephen Benjamin
The City of Columbia, South Carolina

Dr. Kevin Dayaratna (minority witness)
Senior Statistician and Research Programmer, Center for Data Analysis
Institute for Economic Freedom
The Heritage Foundation


116th Congress