This week, a new report confirmed a claim we may have suspected but hoped wasn’t true: Florida will have to spend more than any other state to manage the effects of sea level rise.
In fact, by 2040, climate change may cost the state as much as $76 billion, according to a new report from Resilient Analytics and the Center for Climate Integrity.
In Tampa Bay, the effects are just as grim. Both Tampa and St. Petersburg ranked within the top 15 costliest U.S. cities for seawall construction. Tampa’s seawalls could cost as much as $938.4 million.
How will cities foot the exorbitant bill?
The center has a proposed solution: Ask oil and gas companies to pay for some of the costs. After all, says Center for Climate Integrity executive director, Richard Wiles, governments will simply not have the funds.
“The federal government is not going to have the money to pay for all of this,” Wiles said. “So if polluters aren’t part of the equation, then a lot of people and a lot of communities are going to get left behind unnecessarily.”
The report also calculates the cost per person to build protective seawalls. In towns with smaller populations, like North Key Largo and St. George Island, that cost came out to almost $1 million per person.
Wiley admits that residents will not be taking on those costs themselves, but the data point shows the gravity of the circumstances, he said.
“Those are the high risk places," he said. “There are a lot of smaller towns and real communities that require an enormous amount of defensive barriers to stay above sea level.”
So where do the top Florida cities stack up? We broke down their total costs and how that cost is spread over the area’s population.
Total cost for seawall construction: $3.5 billion
Cost per resident: $3,990
Total miles of seawall needed: 632
Total cost: $1.5 billion
Cost per resident: $172,260
Total miles of seawall needed: 80
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Total cost: $938.4 million
Cost per resident: $2,549
Total miles of seawall needed: 64
4. North Key Largo
Total cost: $826.4 million
Cost per capita: $819,004
Total miles of seawall needed: 55
Total cost: $811.3 million
Cost per capita: $125,044
Total miles of seawall needed: 37
6. St. Petersburg
Total cost: $751.4 million
Cost per capita: $2,935
Total miles of seawall needed: 63
7. St. George Island
Total cost: $674.6 million
Cost per capita: $911,674
Total miles of seawall needed: 28
8. Apollo Beach
Total cost: $456.6 million
Cost per capita: $25,467
Total miles of seawall needed: 35
9. Cape Coral
Total cost: $431.4 million
Cost per capita: $2,484
Total miles of seawall needed: 81
10. Coral Gables
Total cost: $429.8 million
Cost per capita: $8,442
Total miles of seawall needed: 29