A new report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate suggests that tackling the effects of climate change may not be as costly as once thought. The findings rebutted the traditional argument that cleaning up our planet comes with a hefty price tag.
In the long run, the report states, reducing carbon emissions may generate better economic growth when you consider green policies like the implementation of mass transportation and fewer health and medical problems that stem from pollution. The cost of making changes like switching to cleaner energy and lowering carbon emissions cancels out roughly the trillions of money we would be spending over the next 15 years on fossil-fuelled power plants and the fossil fuel supply chain, it says.
“The infrastructure capital needed for a low-carbon transition would be only 5 percent higher than in a business-as-usual scenario, helping to limit future climate impacts and adaptation costs,” the report reads.
This does not mean the global economy won’t require substantial investments in infrastructure or that it will be easy to implement long-term policies for carbon pricing and regulation around the world. The report details recommendations for transition: setting long-term policies, redirecting investments toward low-emission options and limiting and redesigning urban sprawl. However, the bigger challenge yet may be for governments to actually adopt and implement the rules.
Ottmar G. Edenhofer, a climate economist who helped lead the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report earlier this year, told The New York Times that he was doubtful about these new projections.
“The assumption and the argument that this can be done for free, that’s from my point of view overly optimistic,” he told the newspaper. “Yes, you can rescue some lives, but to assign monetary values to this is particularly complicated.”
The Times also suggested that political problems also bar many countries from taking actions sooner.