Asia Minute: Trade Policy Can Make Climate Change More Expensive

May 30, 2018

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A new report out this week says flooding related to climate change will cost China nearly 400-billion dollars over the next twenty years. But there will also be high costs to the United States — and not just because of the weather. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

China faces higher costs than any other country from flooding related to climate change.

That’s according to a report published this week in Nature Climate Change — following work done in the United States and Germany. Researchers estimate the cost to China at 389-billion dollars over the next 20 years.

That’s more than ten times the direct cost of similar flooding in the United States — estimated at about 30-billion dollars.

But the study says there’s a multiplying factor that could raise the cost to the U.S. economy by more than five times that figure — and it’s related to trade policy.

The authors say that protectionist trade policies will cut down on the flexibility of U.S. industry to move to alternate suppliers in case of disruption due to natural disaster.

One of the co-authors said freer trade among countries can make the market move more efficiently — with closer connections among economies allowing companies to make more rapid changes to their supply chains.

Credit Wikipedia

Another says further pursuit of trade tariffs will be “likely to leave the U.S. economy even more vulnerable to climate change.”

Projections assume countries do not make any changes in policy to counter the effects of climate change — the authors say it is not too late to make some adjustments.