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Costs of Inaction

The scientific consensus is in: The earth’s climate is changing for the worse, as a result of anthropogenic (human-caused) changes to the composition of the atmosphere. How much effect can we have on reducing these climate-induced losses by limiting our emissions of greenhouse gases? It is, unfortunately, no longer possible to avoid all adverse climate impacts. Some change from the pre-industrial climate has already taken place, and more is bound to occur as a result of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as the additional emissions that will be released in the very near future (too soon for policy changes to take effect). We have been looking at two possible scenarios for the future:  the business-as-usual case assumes no new climate policies are implemented; the rapid stabilization case is designed to represent the best that can realistically be hoped for at this point. The difference between these two scenarios is the cost of inaction, or the potential savings that can come from reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We have undertaken a number of studies focusing on specific geographic areas and the local costs of climate inaction.  

The Caribbean Region
The United States
Studies for Friends of the Earth
Frank Ackerman testified on Feb. 12, 2009 before the Energy and the Environment Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on the costs of inaction on climate change.  His testimony was presented in a hearing entitled “The Climate Crisis: National Security, Public Health, and Economic Threats.”  Download testimony.   He had also testified in a similar vein on Sept. 18, 2008 before the House Ways and Means Committee in a hearing entitled “Policy Options to Prevent Climate Change.

Read more about GDAE's work on the Economics of Climate Change

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Global Development And Environment Institute
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