“From where I sit, climate action is a must do; climate inaction is a can’t do; and climate denial scores – and I don’t mean scoring points on the board. I mean that it scores in the budget. Climate denial will cost us billions of dollars.”
Those were some of the remarks made by Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in a speech delivered at the Center for American Progress on Friday. You can watch the full speech below:
In his speech, Donovan highlighted the domestic costs of climate inaction and how investing in a climate action plan will reduce more extreme weather events and ultimately improve the economy. Donovan said that he viewed climate action as “tremendously important” due to the massive damage it can do to the economy.
Hurricane Sandy, the Director notes, cost $65 billion in damages, the most expensive weather disaster since Hurricane Katrina swept through the South less than a decade ago. And these events are not fading away. In 2011, the Center for American Progress reported that the U.S. experienced 14 weather events that cost $1 billion each. In 2012, it experienced 11 such disasters.
Wildfires, too, are becoming more intense, lasting longer and draining U.S. Forest Service funds. Six years since 2002 have seen the Service diverting funds from other areas in order to compensate for their lack of resources.
“So we spend what we have to in order to put out the fires,” said Donovan, “and then we under-invest in the tools that can help mitigate them, only leading to higher costs in the future.”
Donovan’s remarks were delivered days before President Obama is to attend the New York climate summit hosted by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in a series of initiatives aimed at publicizing the dangers of climate change and directing federal funds towards energy efficiency and renewable resources.
“As OMB Director, due to the wide-ranging effects that climate change is having,” he said, “and will continue to have, it’s critical to our ability to operate and fund the government in a responsible manner.”