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Climate disasters cost $650 billion over 3 years: Morgan Stanley

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A Cal Fire firefighter monitors a burning home as the Camp Fire moves through the area on November 9, 2018 in Magalia, California. 

Thus far, the United States is bearing the brunt of climate change’s toll on the economy. Morgan Stanley says climate-related disasters like hurricanes and wildfires have cost North America $415 billion, or two-thirds of the global total. That pencils out to 0.66 percent of North American GDP.

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 14 weather and climate disasters cost the nation $91 billion in 2018, Earth’s fourth hottest year on record.

The assessment lands at a time when the U.S. is at a crossroads over climate change. Progressive liberals on Capitol Hill are pushing a Green New Deal to overhaul the U.S. economy in just 10 years, while a select committee led by establishment House Democrats is seen pursuing a more modest approach to tackling global warming.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump continues to cast doubt on the consensus among climate scientists and U.S. government agencies that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are warming the planet. His administration, backed by Congressional Republicans, is seeking to boost fossil fuel production and push through a broad rollback of Obama-era policies aimed at lowering U.S. emissions.

After the U.S., Asia is most exposed to the cost of climate disasters, absorbing $180 billion in economic damages, equal to 0.24 percent of regional GDP, Morgan Stanley says.

Parts of the two regions — including the U.S. Gulf and East coasts, China and the Philippines — are also at greatest risk of sea level rise and adverse weather events. Changes to agricultural conditions will also have big impact on parts of North America and Asia, in addition to Europe and Central America. The spread of infectious disease is of greatest concern to Africa, Latin America and other developing regions, the bank says.

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