Friday, April 12, 2024

Report: Rising Sea Levels to Impact Chesapeake Bay Region’s Economy

Due to sea level rise, 263,500 jobs and more than $11 billion in wage income across the Chesapeake Bay region will be at risk of 100-year flooding by 2050, according to a new report. (Adobe Stock)

WASHINGTON — A new report finds rising sea levels in Chesapeake Bay will cost the surrounding regions jobs.

The Resources for the Future report finds, in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay area, almost 180,000 — or 7.4% of jobs in the region — will be exposed to 100-year floods by 2050.

In turn, this means $6.1 billion in wage income is at risk during the same period.

Of Virginia’s 134 counties, 42 will be impacted by rising sea levels by 2050.

Yanjun “Penny” Liao, a fellow with Resources for the Future and a co-author of the report, said some state-level solutions involve better coordination between resilience planning and economic-development incentives.

“So, in order for the economy to adapt to increasing risk in some of these highly exposed areas, it’s important to structure what the grants are doing,” said Liao. “And, don’t put it in the most exposed places.”

One thing the research wasn’t able to take into account is how hurricanes have been intensifying in recent years due to climate change.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the 60 major weather events between 2020 and 2022 created more than $445 billion in damage.

Liao noted that some states such as Virginia and Maryland already incorporate climate change into their economic development grants and incentives.

But, she noted that other states need to consider similar policies, to be more proactive in resilience planning.

“If the state and local government engage in proactive planning and fund more development on high grounds, or like, say, for location,” said Liao, “you can gradually shift some of these establishments and jobs to low-risk areas.”

She said this will help local economies of the Chesapeake Bay region become more resilient and robust.

According to the report, Virginia established a resilience fund in early 2022, which was seeded with $25 million from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

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