President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Alaska, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and address to our Congress and the upcoming climate summit in Paris highlight the need to act decisively on climate change.
Though there are fears of economic disaster if our country invests in the infrastructure to deal with climate change, the reverse is actually true. A report by the World Bank in June of 2014 stated “policies to cut carbon pollution might actually boost the global economy by up to $2.6 trillion a year.”
Wall Street agrees with these findings. A recent report by Citigroup states “The incremental costs of following a low carbon path are in context limited and seem affordable, the return on that investment is acceptable and moreover the likely avoided liabilities are enormous — actually savings trillions of dollars.” It goes on to say, “And down the line, a low carbon energy mix could account for $30-50 trillion in savings from avoiding climate damage.”
Last year’s long awaited publication by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate states,”low carbon infrastructure investments are barely more expensive (around five per cent) than high carbon; and will pay for themselves over time in lower operating costs. And, most importantly, they will bring multiple economic and social benefits.”
A report by the New Climate Economy one week ago stated that” if cities around the world implemented certain carbon-reducing strategies including making buildings more efficient and investing in public transportation they could save a combined total of $17 trillion by 2050.”
The International Energy Agency’s report last year entitled “Energy Technology Perspectives” found that “an aggressive effort to deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency (and energy storage) to keep global warming below the dangerous threshold of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit/2 degrees Celsius would be staggeringly cost-effective, resulting in net savings of $71 trillion by 2050.”
The risks of not acting on climate change are unacceptable: soaring temperatures, increasing droughts and starvation, melting ice sheets, rising sea levels with resultant severe flooding of coastal cities, increasing poverty and starvation, and possible mass migrations that will make the migration from Syria seem miniscule.
All the definitive studies ask the question: Why not act on climate change? We have the means to do so in our hands.
Citizens Climate Lobby has a simple plan for putting a steadily increasing price on carbon and returning all the dividends to us, the people of the United States. Their well respected Regional Economic Modeling, Inc. study found that this would decrease greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent over the next 20 years as well as adding 2.8 million American jobs and increasing the GDP by $1.3 trillion over that time.
The price of alternative energy is now competitive with the price of energy from fossil fuels. Numerous studies show that electric bills would ultimately be lowered, not raised, by the switch to alternative fuels. There is no good reason not to act.