RMS: Sea Level Rise Will Threaten $77B Worth of San Francisco Property by 2100

May 19, 2016

RMS has completed groundbreaking analysis to quantify the economic risk to San Francisco’s property from future sea level rise. The analysis was used to inform the city’s recently released Sea Level Rise Action Plan, commissioned by Mayor Edwin Lee, and is based on the National Research Council’s upper-end projection of a 66-inch sea level rise by the year 2100.

RMS found that $55 billion of private and public sector property in the low-lying coastal areas around San Francisco would be permanently inundated by the end of the century. The calculation assumes that no measures are put in place to increase the city’s resilience and reflects present day costs to rebuild the affected buildings and infrastructure, rather than the market values 84 years from now.

The global catastrophe risk management firm also calculated the property loss estimates for a 1-in-100-year extreme storm surge temporarily pushing up sea levels further to 108 inches. In this scenario an additional $22 billion of property assets would be at risk, bringing the total exposure to $77 billion.

Since publishing the Sea Level Rise Action Plan San Francisco’s mayor has announced an $8 million investment over the next two years to begin strengthening the city’s seawall, a critical piece of infrastructure, which provides flood protection to the downtown district.

“Our sea-level rise impact analysis for the City of San Francisco is already delivering results, by helping the city decide where to prioritize action and investment for resilience building projects, such as reinforcing the seawall,” said RMS’ Chief Strategy Officer, Paul VanderMarck. “As a company headquartered in the Bay Area, we appreciate first-hand the importance of increasing the city’s resilience to sea-level rise. But San Francisco is not unique in this respect. Coastal cities across the world face the same challenges from climate change.”

The project with the City of San Francisco is a milestone in RMS’ work with the public sector. As a result of RMS’ partnership with 100 Resilient Cities and the Rockefeller Foundation RMS has committed to help cities around the world in their efforts to improve resilience. The San Francisco project highlights the firm’s ability to use its unique expertise to quantify the shocks and stresses that can afflict cities.

“We know that sea level rise is coming and that it will impact our coastal cities. The opportunity is for San Francisco and the Bay Area to manage that and other complex issues ahead. RMS’ work shows the value of partnering with experts in the private sector to understand and quantify the impact these shocks and stresses may have, and how to reduce them. Building resilience across the world’s cities will naturally require partnerships with various sectors. To manage risk we need to measure it — and partners like RMS are key to that challenge,” said Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities:

The analysis used RMS’ proprietary data on individual buildings in San Francisco combined with information provided by the city on public assets. The $77 billion of property exposed to the most extreme scenario consists of 2,606 private sector buildings with a total value of $39 billion as well as $35 billion of public assets including city buildings, port facilities, San Francisco airport, the northern waterfront seawall and various other forms of infrastructure.

Source: RMS

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