Some have argued that the worrisome climate news is that the cost of preventing climate change is too high. In fact, estimates of the cost of acting to mitigate warming have remained relatively stable, while estimates of the likely cost of inaction are becoming unbearable. Whether the goal is 450 or 350 parts per million, this is still a problem we can afford to solve. Stopping global warming remains fundamentally a problem of political will.
We are among the eight authors of a recent report for Economics for Equity and the Environment Network, an affiliate of the nonprofit Ecotrust, that surveyed numerous economic studies on the cost of meeting the 350 ppm goal. We found that quicker action aimed at more ambitious targets makes good economic sense.
Our report shows that a comprehensive global strategy is well within the range of what most nations are willing to pay to avoid far greater damages from climate change down the line. With investments of roughly 1 to 3 percent of global gross domestic product, or $600 billion to $1.8 trillion, we could rapidly transition from oil and coal to renewables and clean energy sources, including wind and solar, and replenish global forests, which would help trap billions of tons of carbon. These efforts would create jobs and stabilize the climate in the process. Fluctuations or changes in some factors, such as the price of oil, could mean these investments might actually save us money.
Do we want to continue to face the growing uncertainties and range of threats posed by continued fossil fuel dependence? Or do we want to create a brighter, more stable economic future that also solves many of our most urgent environmental, health, and security problems?
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