Department of Ecology News Release - January 10, 2007
OLYMPIA - Climate change is already affecting Washington's economy, according to a study requested by the departments of Ecology and Community Trade and Economic Development (CTED) that was released today.
A team of scientists and economists evaluated climate change in producing the state report, "Impacts of Climate Change on Washington's Economy." The study warns that economic effects are likely to grow in the Pacific Northwest as temperatures increase.
A warming Pacific Northwest, extreme weather, reduced snow pack and sea level rise are four major ways climate change is disrupting Washington's economy, environment and communities.
The research team reached three conclusions about the effects of climate change on Washington's economy:
1. Climate change impacts are already occurring in Washington State and their economic effects are becoming apparent.
2. The economic effects of climate change in Washington will grow as temperatures and sea levels rise.
3. Although global warming and the economic disruption it causes will increase over time, new economic opportunities are already available.
Key evidence of climate change effects in Washington include: retreating glaciers, decreasing snow pack, lower summer stream flows, more wildfires, and rising sea levels.
Ecology and CTED have published the report on their new multi-agency climate change web portal, which was launched today: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/climatechange.
After reviewing the report, Ecology Director Jay Manning said: "This study documents ongoing economic impact from climate change, and predicts even more significant economic disruption in Washington. Our regional scientists expect our climate to warm three times faster than it has during the 20th century, and absent focused efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare, to the extent possible, for the environmental and economic changes that cannot be avoided, damage to our northwest economy will only increase."
Juli Wilkerson, who directs Washington's Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, said: "This is a global issue and we're already connected to trading partners who are facing climate change issues along with us. If we're flexible and responsive, we can seize opportunities to help reduce climate change effects and benefit our region economically. Our ability to export technology and expertise can help us all prepare for climate changes and it effects," she added.
The scientific and economic assessment was based on gradual warming projections, but the study team said that abrupt changes in climate could be triggered if certain temperature thresholds are crossed at the global level.
Manning said, "We know a lot about reducing the emissions that cause global warming. This report will help us understand and respond just as creatively to the effects of climate change in our state."
In Washington State, actions have already been taken to address global warming. These include:
Efforts within the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as action to prepare for impacts that are inevitable, will create economic opportunities, the report said. Emerging industries and new markets that will help the state adjust to global warming impacts include efficient transportation, renewable power, biofuels, carbon capture and energy efficiency. To view the full report, go to: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/pubs/0701010.pdf.
Additional information: A related study of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington shows that most of the growth in overall CO2 emissions comes from burning fossil fuels for transportation and generating power. The total transportation CO2 emissions are more than three times higher today than in 1960. Altogether, total CO2 emissions increased 32 percent between 1977 and 2004. For report highlights, read CTED's "Washington's Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Sources and Trends" press release or see the full report at ... http://www.cted.wa.gov/portal/alias__CTED/lang__en/tabID__853/DesktopDefault.aspx
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Contacts: Nelsa Brodie, Ecology Water Resources Public Information Manager, 360-407-7139 or Seth Preston, Ecology Air Quality Public Information Officer, 360-407-6848
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