Climate Finance | October 13, 2017

The job costs of climate inaction

The team at


The Trump administration is moving to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration rule designed to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants by about 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Republicans have long complained that the plan will weaken the U.S. economy and wreck employment in the coal and fossil-fuel industries

But it was weather-related damage, not climate action, that ended the U.S. seven-year streak in jobs growth.

According to the most recent jobs report, the United States shed 33,000 jobs in September. The Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould concludes that the loss was almost certainly due to Hurricane Irma, which hit in the middle of the jobs-reporting period, and to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The storms “had a larger toll than I expected,”Gould told the Intercept. State-level jobs numbers could show an uptick in industries like construction as rebuilding efforts get underway in Texas and Florida, she noted.

Scientists say that “freakishly” warm conditions in the Gulf of Mexico no doubt compounded Harvey’s wrath. Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria devastated entire communities and caused billions of dollars in damages.

As we write, the air is thick with smoke from fires that have devastated many northern California communities. This is where we include the required caveat that it’s impossible to definitively blame any of this year’s disasters on climate change.