The Caribbean and Climate Change: The Costs of Inaction

Report commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund

Author(s): Bueno, R. ; Stanton, E.A. ; Ackerman, F. ; Herzfeld, C.
Year: 2008

The report was commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). It is the first detailed analysis of the potential economic effects of continued climate change for the entire Caribbean region. The report, similar in methodology to the recent study on the cost of climate change in Florida, compares two possibilities – an optimistic rapid stabilization case and a pessimistic business-as-usual case – and focuses on three categories of effects: hurricane damages, loss of tourism revenue, and infrastructure damage due to sea level rise.

The costs of inaction, or the difference between these two scenarios, are the potential savings from acting in time to prevent the worst economic consequences of climate change. The report points out that, although Caribbean nations have contributed little to the release of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change, they will pay a heavy price for global inaction in reducing emissions.

Key findings of the report include:

  • The costs of inaction will amount to 22 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for the Caribbean as a whole by 2100;
  • The costs of inaction will reach an astonishing 75 percent or more of GDP by 2100 in Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, St. Kitts & Nevis and Turks & Caicos;
  • The Caribbean's largest island, Cuba, faces a nearly 13 percent economic hit by mid-century, and a 27 percent loss by 2100, unless there is swift action to address climate change;
  • Losses from inaction would be less severe but still significant in Puerto Rico, reaching nearly 3 percent by 2050 and 6 percent by the end of the century;
  • The nation of Colombia, with its long Caribbean coastline, faces permanent flooding of 1,900 square miles in low-lying coastal areas, affecting 1.4 million people.

Download the Report:
English version
Versión en español

Media coverage

Ramón Bueno presented the findings of this study and the Florida study in Miami on Sept. 17-18, 2008. The trip included radio interviews on Tampa's WMNF Evening News and Miami's WKAT 1360 ("Rich Roffman Show") and presentations before the Economic, Social and Health Adaptation Committee of the Miami-Dade Climate Change Advisory Task Force; City of Miami's Office of Sustainable Initiatives staff and Mayor Manny Díaz (current president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors); at the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald editorial office; with Rep. Dan Gelber (FLA House minority leader)and with staff person for US Congressman Lincoln Díaz-Balart.

Radio Links:
1 - September 17th, 2008. WMNF Evening News, with Mitch E. Perry
"Effect of climate change on Caribbean nations studied"
MP3 recording

2 - September 18, 2008 at 5pm with Ramon Bueno and Larry Milian, The Rich Roffman Show.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
June 1, 2008
Climate change could cripple Caribbean economy
(PDF on GDAE site)


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