Friday, 28 September 2012 09:45

The Price Tag for Climate Change Continues to Climb

Written by  Jessie
Hazy Smokestacks Hazy Smokestacks Nathan Macaluso/CC BY 2.0

Global warming currently cuts into the planet’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.6 percent annually.  This translates into $1.2 trillion, and the number is expected to double to 3.2 percent by the year 2030 if carbon dioxide emissions aren’t curbed.

According to the “Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet” report, the costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of taking on climate change.  The report estimates reducing emissions at a cost of 0.5 percent GDP over the next 10 years.

And if money isn’t motivation enough, take a look at the almost 5 million deaths annually due to climate change.  The report estimates it causes an average of 400,000 deaths each year, mainly from hunger and contagious diseases, plus an additional 4.5 million deaths annually from related global warming causes such as air pollution, dangerous occupations in the fossil fuel industry, and cancer.

The average of 3.2 percent losses to global GDP disguises the plight of poorer, developing nations who are disproportionately affected.  The estimate for these countries, such as Bangladesh, for example, is an average of 11 percent of GDP by 2030.  This is not to say that major economies avoid the effects either.  China alone is estimated to lose more than $1.2 trillion in less than 20 years.  By 2030, the total economic losses for the United States, India, and China will reach $2.5 trillion.  According to the report, these three nations also will suffer over 3 million deaths annually, or half of all deaths.

A report released in July by the European Commission Joint Research Centre and PBL, the Netherlands’ environmental assessment agency calculated that last year global carbon dioxide emissions reached their highest point ever at 34 billion metric tons. 

It’s time to tackle climate change now to reverse this scary trend and save lives.  The price tag for doing nothing is too high.

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