Chris King believes Florida can both fight climate change and spur the economy, declaring that it could be “the smartest investment Florida makes this century.”

At the same time, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate recounted forecasters’ worst fears for the Sunshine State if sea levels and temperatures continue to rise as predicted.

In a lengthy statement published Thursday as a blog post on his campaign website, King outlined concerns for weather, sea level rise, and economic impacts to Florida projected for the next few generations.

King, the wealthy Winter Park affordable housing developer, touted his business successes and decried Republicans who always accuse Democrats of not understanding business or the economy.

But first, King must win a Democratic primary, facing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee. The leading Republican in the race (so far) is Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, while other prominent names are mulling the race.

Also considering a bid for the Governor’s Mansion are Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine — who leads a city that 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 said in a news release.

In his post, King laid out several foreboding projections: “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.

Secondary economic impacts would be statewide, he added, by disturbing Florida agriculture, manufacturing and energy, as average temperatures rise.

Then, King attacked policies and positions of Gov. Rick Scott, focusing on his reported ban on mentioning climate change or global warming by the state’s environmental agencies. He also criticized the Florida Legislature for doing too little to speak to the effects of a changing climate.

“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 said.

He also condemned President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, while accusing 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 gross domestic product. Energy costs would decrease, energy efficiency would increase, and lives would even be saved.”

Among proposals King outlines in his statement, many of which previously announced:

— Banning fracking and offshore 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.

 

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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