Study: Acting on Climate Will Boost Economy

April 16, 2020

CBS News:

One of the main arguments against taking action on climate change has always been that it’s too expensive. But new research finds just the opposite: We can’t afford not to. 

A study published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature finds that if nations fail to rein in greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently, as agreed upon in the international Paris Agreement, the global economy stands to lose at least $150 trillion to as much as $792 trillion by the end of the century. 

A co-author of the study, Biying Yu, from the Beijing Institute of Technology, said the general consensus in the international academic community is that “climate change may lead to a global catastrophe,” and thus inaction could result in “substantial socio-economic losses.”

The research reveals that the choice between climate action and economic growth is in fact a false choice. The authors’ work concludes that countries could reach their climate goals and at the same time see an increase in their net income. 

Specifically the team found that if nations are able to optimally reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, then the net global economic benefit would range between $127 trillion and $616 trillion by 2100.

The net economic benefit is defined as the climate damage avoided minus the costs to keep warming in check. The large range in economic benefit values is due to simulating various “self-preservation strategies” — plans for avoiding loss and maximizing gain — that incorporate different levels of technology development and climate damage.
For each nation, the study provides exact emission reduction targets, economic break-even points and the ceiling costs of strategies to improve their current NDC’s. Yu says the goal of their study is to illustrate to leaders the potential payoffs of taking early and significant action.
Noah Kaufman, a climate and energy economist from Columbia University, agrees that aggressive action would be beneficial to both the Earth and the economy. “The literature overwhelmingly shows the economic benefits of serious mitigation efforts exceed the costs in the long run,” he said.
However, despite evidence of substantial long-term economic gains, Biying Yu is concerned that governments may be shortsighted about the up-front costs. “Since many countries and regions would have a negative net income in the early stage due to the large amount of [greenhouse gas] abatement cost, they may refuse to ratchet up current climate actions in the near term and choose to neglect the long-term climate damage, which makes a severe obstacle in achieving global warming targets.”

Kaufman believes it’s not for lack of knowledge or ability that countries haven’t taken stronger action. “We could implement highly cost-effective mitigation policies that would reduce emissions at a very low cost. But we’ve lacked the political will to do so,” he said. 

“Combating climate change is not a matter for one country. It requires collective action and cooperation from all countries around the world,” explained Yu, “Let’s work together and save ourselves.”


4 Responses to “Study: Acting on Climate Will Boost Economy”

  1. pendantry Says:

    Reblogged this on Wibble and commented:
    Kudos and thanks to Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week for putting this encouraging message together. He’s been moving away from ‘crocks’ and towards ‘unlocks’ for some time now, and this is one of the most promising I’ve seen.

  2. doldrom Says:

    Also common sense. Running the farm into the ground to pay the bank is obviously not sustainable: the long-term costs will overwhelm you, at a time you no longer have options.

    The word economy and ecology (principles or laws of household management) are virtually identical for a very good reason …

  3. neilrieck Says:

    The last page of the current issue of Scientific American has a good article showing how a modest carbon tax would hugely boost US jobs.

  4. […] A needful report on the climate/economy, some homeless programs of note, and in the “Why am I not surprised” department… […]

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