Rising seas could force US coastal communities to spend $416 billion on seawalls over the next 20 years.
That’s the verdict from the Centre for Climate Integrity (CCI), which notes this cost is likely to represent a small fraction of total spending on adaptation efforts required by governments in coastal states.
It warns as climate change continues, ice melts and sea levels rise, Florida will face the highest costs on a state-by-state basis.
It expects the southernmost contiguous state will have to pay a massive $76 billion (£59.6bn) before 2040 to build a total 9,243 miles of new seawalls.
It is followed by Louisiana and North Carolina, which the CCI claims will have to spend $38 billion (£29.8bn) on 6,764 miles of new infrastructure and $35 billion (£27.4bn) on 5,250 miles of new wall respectively.
These predictions are based on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) scenario in which emissions would peak at around 2040 and then begin to fall.
Richard Wiles, Executive Director of the CCI, said: “I don’t think anybody’s thought about the magnitude of this one small portion of overall adaptation costs and it’s a huge number.
“You’re looking at close to half a trillion spent over the next 20 years and no one has thought about that. So the question is, who’s going to pay for that? Is it really going to be taxpayers? The current position of climate polluters is that they should pay nothing and that’s just not tenable.”