Sea Level Rise Could Cost Ports Over $25 Billion Annually

Sea Level Rise Could Cost Ports Over $25 Billion Annually

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, seaports around the world will see billions of dollars in losses, according to a new report. Destructive storms, floods, and rising sea levels could damage port infrastructure to the tune of $10 billion a year by 2050. By 2100, losses are expected to rise to over $25 billion a year, a figure higher than the annual total operating profits for the entire global container shipping industry.

Why This Matters

Sea level rise is shaping up to be a catastrophic and expensive effect of global warming. We’re seeing the impacts of sea level rise already. Only 15.5% of the globe’s coastal regions remain intact. In the US, over half of the coastal regions are under high amounts of human and industrialized pressure, especially Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware. Over the next 30 years, the US coast will experience a foot of sea level rise on average; the costs of which will fall inordinately on the most disadvantaged communities. Flooding in the US will become 26% more costly by 2050, with Black communities along the Gulf Coast bearing the brunt of the costs.

CNN: 'Mind boggling': See how rising sea levels will affect the coasts, February 17, 2022.

The Cost Of Sea Level Rise

Ports have already suffered from global supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, “the climate emergency will have major consequences for international shipping,” stated Marie Hubatova, senior manager of the Environmental Defense Fund’s global transport team. “In the face of climate breakdown, however, the shipping industry has an early warning bell and an opportunity to act.”

Weather was responsible for roughly one in five vessels lost across the globe from 2015 to 2019, and this will become increasingly common as weather grows more extreme due to climate change. In addition to recovery costs and shipping delays, expensive construction projects like raising structures, building sea walls, and even relocating coastal residents to higher ground will increase the costs of sea level rise.

The US is beginning to tackle the effects of rising sea levels. Last year, a bipartisan infrastructure law set aside $17 billion to upgrade ports and waterways.

CNBC: How climate change is impacting global supply chains, August 19, 2021.