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WWF, Allianze estimate what it could cost NOT to take action on climate change

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Remember billions and billions lost on the insurance bill for Hurricane Katrina? Those losses would be dwarved by the estimates reported in a new climate change loss report from World Wildlife Fund and insurer Allianz SE.

Every wonder about the business/financial impact that climate change and sea level changes in particular might have on the coastal United States?

A new report from the World Wildlife Fund and European insurance giant Allianz SE says that close to $1.4 trillion in "assets" could be at risk from a severe storm surge. Moreover, by mid-century, their joint study predicts that up to $7.4 trillion could be in jeopardy if the global sea level rises 20 inches.

Yep, the timing is tied to the Copenhagen climate meeting next month.

"Much of the debate in the U.S. over climate change has focused on the costs of actions to reduce emissions," says David Reed, senior vice president of policy for the World Wildlife Fund, in a press release about the study. "The findings of this report highlight the enormous cost of doing nothing."

U.S. cities at the greatest risk of financial loss include Miami, New York-Newark, New Orleans, Boston, Virginia Beach and Tampa-St. Petersburg, according to the report, "Major Tipping Points the Earth's Climate System and Consequences for the Insurance Sector." The people who wrote the report are no slouches: They hail from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and from Andlug Consulting, a strategic environmental consulting company.

The two organizations have published a web site, where you can poke around and see a visual depiction of how various climate changes, such as a continued melting of the Arctic ice cap or more arid weather patterns in the United States might affect various regions of the globe.

The report and executive summary can be found at this link.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure