Here’s something interesting from a source I would not have expected. A new comprehensive report from Citibank (the third largest bank in the US) found that taking climate change seriously and doing something now to lower carbon pollution will save the world $1.8 trillion through the year 2040. Not acting, on the other hand, will not only not save that money, it will cost an additional (and stunning) $44 trillion through 2060, caused by the negative consequences of climate change.
Ironically, the investment costs for the two scenarios (inaction versus action) are almost identical, with the “action” scenario costing a bit less. That’s right, it will cost us less to do something to reduce carbon pollution than to not do something about it, because of savings from reduced fuel costs and increased energy efficiency. Money invested in renewable energy now will pay off because of the rapidly falling costs of renewables.
The report starts with a prescient quote from Thomas Edison:
We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy – sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.
Unfortunately, critics of taking action to reduce carbon pollution (when they aren’t denying it outright), claim that it would cost too much to do something about it. Some, like Charles Koch, claim that the cost of doing something would cause an economic disaster, saying “So do we want to create a catastrophe today in the economy because of some speculation based on models that don’t work?”
The report specifically addresses this concern, and dismisses it as false. Even not counting the cost of the damage caused by climate change, they found that investing in renewable energy will save money. But so far, the Republican party refuses to even consider doing anything about climate change.
The bottom line? Climate denial will cost us trillions of dollars, while doing something about it will save us money.