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Candidates will address climate change, expected to cost Florida $76 billion by 2040

20 Democrats prepare for two-days of presidential debates in Miami

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The first Democratic primary debates kick off tonight with the first of the small army of hopefuls vying for the democratic spot to challenge Donald Trump's presidency next year.

Here is Wednesday’s lineup: Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Julián Castro, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee and John Delaney.

And Thursday’s lineup: Marianne Williamson, John Hickenlooper, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet and Eric Swalwell.

Among hot topics to be discussed will be climate change— responses to which Tampa Bay's leaders are listening closely to.

According to a new report from Resilient Analytics and the Center for Climate Integrity, estimates that the state will likely have to fund $76 billion worth of sea walls by 2040 to mitigate the effects of climate change, based on the low end of sea level rise estimates. 

Florida's entire budget for 2019, which was recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is $90.9 billion state budget.

Projected cost of a seawall along Florida's coast

Take a look at the state's budget and projected cost of a necessary seawall along Florida's coast. Hover over the bar to see the number represented in billions.


Source: Resilient Analytics and the Center for Climate Integrity

The study examined the cost of building sea walls in areas with public infrastructure, noting that Pinellas County could be on the hook for $3 million, while other local counties such as Sarasota and Pasco would be responsible for about $1 billion each.

"I can confidently state that [Mayor Kriseman] certainly hopes and expects that climate change will be a front and center issue throughout this presidential election," said Kriseman’s chief of staff, Kevin King. "He would like to see the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement and cities receive more federal funding to combat climate change and sea level rise. Florida is ground zero.

Without factoring in storm surge events, the study found that Florida would need 9,243 miles of sea walls at a cost of $75,898,048,000.

"Even retreat comes at a substantial cost, as courts have begun to rule that governments that fail to protect private property must compensate property owners for the value of the property that is abandoned," the report says. "As just one example of the scope and gravity of this problem, in 19 small, most unincorporated communities, the cost of seawalls to protect property and infrastructure from a moderate amount of sea level rise by 2040 is more than [$1 million] per person." 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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