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A Dire Warning About Sea-Level Rise in South Florida

A shift is underway on Wall Street—investors are acknowledging the risks of climate change. A recent credit-ratings report on the bridge system connecting Miami to Key Biscayne provides a stark example of the new way of thinking.
August 11, 2019, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Miami and Key Biscayne
The Rickenbacker Causeway, connecting Miami to Key Biscayne.

"Each year, the Fitch credit-ratings firm issues a report on debt backed by tolls collected on Miami’s Rickenbacker Causeway, the bridge system connecting downtown to the shores of Key Biscayne," reports Douglas Hanks.

"On Thursday, Fitch debuted a new cash-flow concern for the Rickenbacker. 'Given its location,' Fitch analysts wrote, 'the causeway is exposed to extreme weather events in relation to rising sea levels and vulnerable to traffic and revenue disruptions.'"

The commentary on the risk of sea-level facing the bridge was triggered by a new scoring system implemented by Fitch in May, which includes a estimates on environmental risks, explains Hanks. Miami-Dade County seems sensitive to the idea that climate change poses risks to its borrowing and binding capacities. The county, "began including disclosures about climate change risks in the regulatory documents it must file for investors in county bonds," reports Hanks.

The state is planning to spend $2.5 million next year on a two-year analysis of the future of the bridges on the Rickenbacker.

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