March 29, 2021
"Cities and other public entities are particularly vulnerable because — unlike private companies — they are geographically fixed; they cannot simply move to avoid exposure to climate impacts. They have multiple assets that are affected simultaneously when disaster strikes. At the same time, they have special responsibilities — they’re mandated to build infrastructure, supply water, provide public services and ensure the protection of natural resources. Compounding this double-whammy is a third challenge: they face severe limits in their ability to raise funds to take on these risks and responsibilities. [...]
The U.S. fossil fuel industry pays few direct costs for their contribution to climate impacts; only a handful of states have carbon pricing initiatives, for example. [...]
The first step is to provide the public with a more complete picture of what these risks are and who is responsible. [...]
With this information, we can make sure entities are contributing their fair financial share to building the financial resilience of cities and states. Funds can repair damaged public infrastructure, such as utilities, and make public assets less vulnerable to climate impacts. [...]
Lawsuits filed by Annapolis and other cities may yet prevail, but public entities — and taxpayers — need protection from climate risk now.