The Threat of Rapid Sea-Level Rise and the Financial Risks to Coastal Communities

Friday, May 7, 2021 - 12:30pm


The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a virtual majority briefing titled “The Risk of Rapid Sea-Level Rise and the Financial Risks to U.S. Coastal Communities” on Friday, May 7, 2021, at 12:30 p.m.

The briefing will focus on new research that warns of the potential for “rapid and unstoppable sea-level rise” if the world fails to meet the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Published this Wednesday in Nature, the new research shows how failing to meet the Paris targets would lead to "an abrupt jump in the pace of Antarctic ice loss after around 2060" and put countries at risk of rapid, irreversible sea level rise by the end of the century. Conversely, if global warming is limited to the targets in the Paris Agreement, the research suggests that ice loss would continue at a pace similar to today's throughout the rest of the century.

The briefing will also focus on the financial impacts of sea-level rise on coastal communities, as well as the actions Congress can take to help communities manage these risks.


The briefing will be presented by:

Dr. Robert M. DeConto, Co-Director, School of Earth & Sustainability, University of Massachusetts Amherst. The lead author of the research published in Nature, Dr. DeConto is an expert in polar climate change and the impact of a warming climate on ice sheets. He is also a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and previously held research positions at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Nancy P. Watkins, Principal & Consulting Actuary, Milliman. Watkins leads a practice that specializes in climate resilience, insurtech, and catastrophic property risk; her team provides state-of-the-art tools, technology, and analysis to insurers, reinsurers, and stakeholders in the flood insurance space. She also serves on the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s Climate Insurance Linked Resilient Infrastructure Finance Working Group, which pilots climate adaptation financing for emerging markets and least developed countries.


117th Congress