Power Failure: How Climate Change Puts Our Electricity at Risk — and What We Can Do

Michelle Davis, Steve Clemmer
Created: 4/22/2014 -


Today, extreme weather events such as coastal floods, wildfires, intense precipitation (snow and rain), heat waves, and droughts are becoming more frequent and severe in some regions. Sea level rise is already worsening coastal floods, and other extreme weather events are likely to become more severe as the planet continues to warm. Building power plants and electricity infrastructure in areas prone to climate-related threats adds to those growing risks.

To ensure a reliable and affordable power supply for decades to come, the electricity sector needs to become more resilient in the face of the changes we are already experiencing, and also adapt to growing risks. Our energy choices are an important part of the solution: energy efficiency and renewable energy can diversify our electricity system and make it more resilient. But there is more to the picture. By investing in those options, we can also dramatically cut carbon emissions, helping to curb further climate change. That is, smart energy choices will create an electricity system that is more resilient in the face of changes we are confronting today while reducing the long-term damage and costs linked to global warming.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.


Sector Addressed
Disaster Risk Management
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Invest in / Enhance emergency services planning and training
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Infrastructure retrofitting and improvements
Make infrastructure resistant or resilient to climate change
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Storms or extreme weather events
United States