By Theresa Pinto, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Earlier this month, Spencer Glendon, a senior fellow at the Woods Hole Research Institute (WHRC) who studies the economic impacts of climate change, told a conference room full of investors in New York that the thirty-year mortgage in Florida will soon be gone.
“No one should be lending for thirty years in most of Florida … it’s fine to rent, but it’s insane to own or to lend.” However, looking around at the skyline of cranes and new hi-rise buildings, it seems many in Florida have not heeded the warning. Glendon stood by his analysis on the Florida Round Up last Friday.
According to Glendon and the WHRC, once insurers become too anxious to insure homes in Florida based on a 1 in 20 chance of paying out on a climate event, then the lenders will pull out of the market all together.
However Kevin McCarty, Florida’s former insurance commissioner, likened sea-level rise to earthquakes in San Francisco, where “[T]here’s a huge number of homes in California that are provided mortgages that don’t have earthquake coverage […] We know earthquakes are going to happen in California and when it happens it will be devastating. Yet the mortgage industry continues to provide.”
McCarty concedes that not much has been done throughout the state to address sea level rise, with most efforts centered in the Southeast Florida area, but doesn’t agree that banks will stop lending in the state anytime soon.
Coastal flood insurance for those communities expected to be hit hardest by sea level rise is already subsidized by the National Flood Insurance Program under FEMA.
In fact, Miami Beach recently improved its Community Rating System (CRS) in order to benefit from savings on flood insurance. CRS is a FEMA-sponsored program that allows cities to earn points for floodplain mitigation activities.
Although FEMA is considering a policy change that might increase premiums dramatically in the next few years in order to make the NFIP financially stable, Florida has the most flood insurance policies of any other state and each week brings thousands of more people to the area.
Miami Beach and the greater Miami metropolitan area have made great strides in mitigation and adaptation in the past few years. Nearly every municipality in the area has a Chief Resiliency or Sustainability Officer (or both), and the coastlines receive extra support from the Florida Resilient Coastlines Program.
Additionally, the four-county South Florida Regional Climate Change Compact has been coordinating adaptation and mitigation activities in the region since 2010.
Today, Thursday, May 30th, Miami’s Resilient305 Strategy will officially launch, developed by a team of Chief Resiliency Officers from Miami, Miami Beach, and Miami-Dade County.
Resilient305 was backed by 100 Resilient Cities founded by the Rockefeller Foundation to help “cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.”
The program officially ended earlier this year, with some funds shifting to the Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience, a D.C. based think tank.