With the Trump Administration’s surprising U-turn on the COP21 Paris Agreement, the U.S. finds itself with some strange bedfellows, joining Nicaragua and Syria in abstaining from this important treaty. The White House’s argument for leaving the treaty is based on economic nationalism: President Trump, in his speech announcing the decision, cited primarily the “lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production” that he thought meeting the agreement’s voluntary targets would cause.

This echoes a common political talking point: that fighting climate change is bad for the economy.

I’d like to point out the flip side: that climate change itself is bad for the economy and investing in climate resilience is not only a national security priority, but an enormous economic opportunity.

The share of national GDP at risk from climate change exceeds $1.5 trillion in the 301 major cities around the world. Including the impact of human pandemics – which are likely to become more severe as the planet warms — the figure increases to nearly $2.2 trillion in economic output at risk through 2025.

For recent examples of what climate disruptions will look like in practice, consider Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the Eastern Seaboard in 2012, causing $68 billion in damages, making it the second most costly weather event in the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina. Record snowfall in Boston of more than 100 inches in the winter of 2015 shut down transit systems for weeks and made it difficult, if not impossible, for some employees to get to work. The “rain bomb” that imperiled the Oroville Dam in California earlier this year threatened the displacement of more than 250,000 downstream residents. A similar rain bomb effectively destroyed historic downtown Ellicott City in 2016, just outside of Washington D.C. Air quality and smog red alerts and the complete bans on vehicle traffic in major cities around the world highlight how traditional commerce and supply chains can and do grind to a halt because of climate risks. Record flooding in Thailand in 2011 severely impacted air travel, tourism, and one of the major regional airports in Asia.

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