January 11, 2018

New Study Finds Society Now Saves $6 for Every $1 Spent Preparing for Natural Disasters

Statement by Shana Udvardy, Climate Preparedness Specialist

WASHINGTON (January 11, 2018)—The National Institute of Building Sciences, a public-private partnership Congress established in 1974, released a new report today titled “Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves,” examining the cost savings of preparing for natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires, many of which are worsened by climate change. The report updates and builds on their groundbreaking and frequently cited 2005 analysis of the same name. The original analysis found that for every dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation there is a $4 savings to society. Today’s report makes an even stronger case for advanced planning, finding that for every $1 invested in federally funded pre-disaster mitigation grants society saves $6 and for every $1 spent on building codes society saves $4. 

Below is a statement by Shana Udvardy, climate preparedness specialist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Earlier this week, NOAA confirmed that 2017 was the costliest year for U.S. extreme weather and climate disasters, which totaled $306.2 billion. Now the latest National Institute of Building Sciences report offers hard data showing that investing in measures to reduce risks in advance of disasters like hurricanes and wildfires will provide huge pay offs. The benefit-cost ratio for federal grants has increased from 4-to-1 to 6-to-1 over the last 13 years, and is only expected to grow as the extreme weather events fueled by climate change increase in frequency and strength.

“The nation is already reeling from the financial burden climate change imposes. This new report shows that the best way to limit future costs is by investing now not only to increase the safety of communities, but also to save taxpayer dollars later. There will be many opportunities in 2018 for President Trump and Congress to support pre-disaster mitigation efforts. The budget, disaster relief proposals and the forthcoming infrastructure bill are just some of the many opportunities to invest in pre-disaster mitigation and reduce the skyrocketing costs of climate change.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.