The Ridiculously Low Cost Of Fighting Climate Change

hear no warming

A new report by the World Economic Forum highlights the ridiculously low cost of curbing the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and beginning the path to greening the economy, thus keeping global warming beneath a 2 degree mean rise. Reuters reports:

OSLO, Jan 21 (Reuters) – The world must spend an extra $700 billion a year to curb its addiction to fossil fuels blamed for worsening floods and heat waves and rising sea levels, a study issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF) showed on Monday.

…The $700 billion, part of which would promote cleaner energies such as wind, solar or hydro-power, would be on top of about $5 trillion projected to be spent each year on infrastructure under a scenario of business as usual until 2020.

…The study said a $36 billion annual rise in global public spending to slow climate change – less than the estimated $50 billion cost of damage by Superstorm Sandy in the United States in October – could unlock far greater private investment.

It suggested a $36 billion jump in state spending to $126 billion a year, from a current $90 billion, might trigger $570 billion from private investors if properly managed.

The study itself is online and notes that the cost of not taking this action will far outweigh finding a paltry $700 billion out of the entire world’s budget to do something concrete.

Despite Obama’s fine words on climate change today, the actual lags hopelessly behind the possible. Reuters notes:

U.N. climate negotiations in Qatar in December ended with little progress on a global framework for emissions cuts.

Instead, governments agreed to devise a new United Nations pact to limit climate change that would enter into force from 2020.

One can only conclude that the only part of the math of climate change which really counts is the  $27 trillion worth of global fossil fuel reserves,  80% of which value must stay below ground if we want to survive but of course none of which big energy companies or governments want to pass up and write off.

In entirely unrelated news, Exxon sponsored the Obama inauguration to the tune of $260,000.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

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