Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King declared Thursday that Florida can fight climate change and spur the economy, while he recounted forecasters’ worst fears for Florida if sea levels and temperatures rise as scientists project.
In a lengthy statement placed as a blog post on his campaign website, King outlined his concerns for weather, sea level rise, and economic impacts to Florida under projections for the next couple of generations, declaring, “fighting climate change could be the smartest investment Florida makes this century.”
The Winter Park developer of affordable housing touted his business successes and decried that Republicans always accuse Democrats of not understanding business or the economy.
King first must win a Democratic primary in which he is facing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee. The leading Republican is Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, with other prominent Republicans mulling the race. Also considering a run is Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, whose city is literally Ground Zero for climate change risk.
“As someone who has built a business from the ground up during the biggest economic recession of our lifetime, I will tell any Republican opponent that I know how to grow Florida’s economy — and it’s not by ignoring climate change. In fact, fighting climate change could be the smartest investment Florida makes this century,” King stated in a news release.
In his post, King laid out foreboding projections, declaring, “Florida has the most property vulnerable to climate change-related flooding, with $69 billion of it at risk. Many of Florida’s coastal communities, including portions of Miami Beach and the Keys, will become chronically inundated with rising sea levels, flooding every other week on average.
“Climate change is also making storms more frequent and destructive, a trend that will only get worse. Storm-related losses will increase by an average of $1.3 billion every year until 2030, a cost which will rise to $4 billion by 2050,” King continued.
The secondary economic impacts would be statewide, affecting Florida’s agriculture, manufacturing, and energy, as average temperatures rise, he added.
King then attacked policies and positions of Florida Gov Rick Scott, particularly for reportedly banning mention of climate change or global warming in the state’s environmental agencies. He also criticized the Florida Legislature for doing too little to address changes.
“Florida needs a Governor who will tackle climate change and the threat it poses to our economy head on — not one who ignores it,” King stated.
He also attacked President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, and accused Scott of “standing idly by.”
“If Florida were to invest in renewable energy for all energy needs, we would create more than 300,000 long-term jobs in those industries,” he continued. “By 2050, our state would save $41 billion per year in health costs resulting from air pollution, the equivalent of 1.8 percent of our GDP. Energy costs would decrease, energy efficiency would increase, and lives would even be saved.”
Among proposals he outlines in his statement, many of which he had previously announced:
– Banning fracking and off-shore drilling [though the drilling issue is in federal hands.]
– Investing in renewable energy solutions.
– Supporting hurricane research and disaster-relief funding.
– Conserving and protecting valuable lands and coasts, including through the land-purchase fund set up by constitutional amendment.
– Commit Florida to the national U.S. Climate Alliance and uphold the spirit of the Paris Agreement in Florida.