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What if New Mexico doesn't address climate change?
Date:2/18/2009

If nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, New Mexico could experience some $3.2 billion in associated costs -- led primarily by wildfires and health-care. This could translate to an individual tab of about 8 percent of annual household income by 2020, according to a report produced for the University of Oregon's Climate Leadership Initiative's Program on Climate Economics by ECONorthwest.

In addition, the report warns, "continuing with the activities that contribute to climate change potentially could cost New Mexico almost $1.3 billion per year in missed opportunities to implement energy-efficiency programs and about $275 million per year in health-care costs from burning coal." Combined total costs, under a "business-as-usual" approach to climate change would jump six-fold, to $18.4 billion, by 2080.

The UO's Program on Climate Economics is guided by a steering committee of 19 academic and private economists from New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and other western states. Committee members also produce some of the program's research. The report's lead author, Ernie Niemi, is a principal with ECONorthwest, a fellow with the Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI) and a steering-committee member. ECONorthwest was contracted to produce the assessment.

Based on three recent international reports, major climate changes for New Mexico will face more frequent wildfires amid prolonged heat waves, significant reductions in precipitation except for northern regions where increases are anticipated and increased seasonal droughts and floods. Hotter weather -- with summer temperatures rising up to 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit over current averages by 2080 -- would increase air-conditioning costs, health-care complications and the state's death rate, especially for residents without access to home cooling.

"Our research found that a failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would produce significant and continually rising cos
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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert

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