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Delaying climate action will carry heavy economic cost, White House warned


Carbon Emissions from Power Plants

Industry groups claim that new Environmental Protection Agency rules for power plants will cripple the economy. Photograph: Matt Brown/AP


Powered by article titled “Delaying climate action will carry heavy economic cost, White House warned” was written by Suzanne Goldenberg, for on Tuesday 29th July 2014 10.00 UTC

The White House has warned that delaying action on climate change would carry a heavy price, racking up an additional 40% in economic losses from climate impacts and other costs over the course of 10 years.

White House officials said the stark finding from the president’s council of economic advisers underlined the urgency of Barack Obama’s efforts to cut carbon pollution.

In addition to a new report on the economic cost of delay, the White House is poised to launch two new initiatives on Tuesday dealing with fast-rising methane emissions from the natural gas industry, and buffering food security against future climate change.

“We are pushing across the board on the elements of the climate action plan,” John Podesta, Obama’s counsellor, told a conference call with reporters.

Several former treasury secretaries and a couple of billionaires have come forward in recent weeks to warn Americans about the economic risks of climate change. By producing its own report on the costs of climate change, the White House appeared to be moving to bolster Obama’s climate agenda from industry attacks.

Industry groups claim that new Environmental Protection Agency rules for power plants will cripple the economy.

In their rebuttal, Obama’s economic team said the costs of delaying action to cut carbon pollution would be far higher in the long term – 40% over the course of a decade, in terms of the increased costs of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and dealing with climate impacts.

The costs were projected to rise even more steeply with each additional degree of warming above the 2C threshold for dangerous climate change, the report said.

“Each decade we delay acting results in an added cost of dealing with the problem of an extra 40%,” Jason Furman, chairman of the council of economic advisers, told a conference call with reporters. “The total amount we would have to pay today would be 40% larger if we waited a decade instead of acting now.”

Additional costs of adapting to climate change caused by delaying action to cut emissions

Economic Costs

This graph shows the council of economic advisers’ calculations on the additional costs that would come from delaying rules to cut emissions on power plants – over a 10-year period, it is an extra 40%. Photograph: /CEA

Delaying action would deepen the risks to property and livelihoods. It would also make it more costly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A 3C rise above pre-industrial levels would shave about 0.9% a year off global GDP, or about $150 billion a year, the report said. A 4C rise would cost the global economy 3.1% of global GDP a year, it said.

“The cost …..ramps up potentially astronomically to the point that even if you want to you couldn’t actually stabilise the temperature,” Furman said.

Furman said the finding was based on an analysis of 16 different economic models, and took into consideration economic damage due to climate change, and lost investment and other opportunities.

The report – and the other interventions – appeared timed to build support around the main pillar of Obama’s climate action plan, regulations limiting carbon pollution from power plants.


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