King County Economic Assessment

  • Erica Asinas, UW Climate Impacts Group
  • Lara Whitely Binder, King County

  • Ongoing
  • King County

This guide serves as a resource for local governments seeking to conduct an economic assessment of climate impacts on a county or city scale. Informed by a literature review and expert consultations, this guide outlines common challenges, proven valuation methods, and best case practices for quantifying climate-related economic risk.


Project Background

Climate change poses serious implications to the overall health of local economies. Chronic and acute shifts in weather and climate may affect the performance of entire industries, the stability and management of public funds, and the financial security of individual households. Economic assessments of climate impacts serve as a strategic tool for decision-makers to effectively weigh these risks, allocate limited resources, and design policy instruments necessary for climate adaptation.

This report was originally prepared for King County, as a high-level guide to conducting a local-scale economic assessment. The economics of climate change is a relatively new and complex field of study and to date, the majority of existing work on this topic has been focused on global and national scale impacts. As local-scale assessments remain limited, this guide collates and synthesizes best case practices from existing studies and academic research.


The primary methods used to develop this guide were 1) a literature review and 2) expert consultations. The existing body of research on the economics of climate change provided a baseline understanding of general theory, key concepts, and common ethical and technical considerations. However, within academic literature, there is still ongoing debate on what the most appropriate methods are for translating climate impacts into economic values. Real-world economic assessments conducted by local governments then served as guidance on which valuation methods are currently being used in practice, and which methods would be most suited for a local context. Expert consultations were used to ground-truth these findings, and supplemented research with experiential lessons from professionals who have conducted local-scale economic assessments in the past.

Photo credits: Snoqualmie Valley Trail, credit: King County (CC BY-NC 2.0); Flooding in Snohomish, credit: King County; Skywalk Park invasive plant education, credit: King County (CC BY-NC 2.0)