Florida: Serious Risk, Boundless Potential

Reading time: 3 minutes
23 July 2007

Florida is the fourth most populous state in the USA with over 18 million permanent citizens. The attractiveness of Florida's environmental amenities and economic opportunities has fueled a rapidly growing population and thus a booming real estate and construction industry. In addition to permanent residents, more than 84.6 million people visited Florida in 2006 according to the state's tourist development agency, contributing $65 billion to the state economy (more than 10% of state GDP), establishing Florida as the top travel destination in the world. Florida also remains an agricultural stronghold, as the state's number two economic sector. This influx of residents and tourists make tourism, agriculture and real estate three of Florida's primary economic drivers.

At the same time, the mean elevation of the state of Florida is 100 feet above sea level and the highest natural point is only 345 feet. Approximately 95% of the population lives within 35 miles of the over 1,300 miles of coastline. Due to this geography and the fact that approximately 17% of the population is over 65 years old, the state is highly vulnerable to two possible consequences of global climate change: rising sea levels and the health concerns related to rising temperatures.

This report highlights how three of Florida's largest economic engines-tourism, agriculture and real estate development- can play a leadership role in climate change solutions to reduce Florida's vulnerability. These business sectors are highly influential in the international business community and have unexplored potential for leadership on climate change. By combining established best practices on energy efficiency and renewable energy, Florida can lead in tackling the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stemming from tourism, agriculture and buildings.

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