Two-thirds of respondents say the economic benefits of net zero emissions by 2050 would outweigh the cost of achieving it.
A growing number of climate economists believe the world should take “immediate and drastic action” to tackle climate change, according to a survey released Tuesday.
Failure to do so could cost the world some $ 1.7 trillion per year by the middle of this decade, and climb to about $ 30 trillion per year by 2075, according to estimates from 738 economists around the world polled by the New York University Institute for Policy Integrity. .
“People joke that economists can’t agree on most things,” said Derek Sylvan, the institute’s director of strategy and one of the survey’s authors. “But we seem to find a fairly strong level of consensus” on the economic importance of climate action.
Three quarters of respondents strongly agreed that drastic action be taken immediately, compared with only half of economists surveyed by the same institute in 2015.
For another question on achieving net zero emissions by 2050, two-thirds said the investment costs to achieve this global target would be outweighed by the economic benefits, which would include preventing natural disasters, preserving coastal infrastructure and assets; and protection of food supplies.
To avoid catastrophic climate change, scientists say the world needs to reach net zero emissions by 2050 – which means people are not adding more emissions to the atmosphere than they are removing.
Sylvan said he was surprised that so many people see net zero stock as “economically desirable, even in the fairly short timeframe we’re talking about.”
Concern about climate change
Most international climate economists interviewed for the February survey said they had grown more concerned about climate change over the past five years. The most common reason they cited was the escalation of recent extreme weather events, which included forest fires and climate-related heat waves.
The world experienced more than 7,300 major natural disasters between 2000 and 2019, which killed some 1.2 million people and cost $ 3 trillion in damage, according to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. That compares to about 4,200 disasters, resulting in 1.19 million deaths and $ 1.6 trillion in losses over the previous 20 years, the data shows.
“Some places are more exposed and current income levels are very important,” said Michael Greenstone, an economist at the University of Chicago and director of the Energy Policy Institute in Chicago.
The fallout from climate change will impact people and nations
Economic disparities make it difficult to apply simple cost-benefit analyzes, he said. For example, a poor family will feel the economic losses more strongly than a rich family.
“How do we think of a dollar in climate damage for (billionaires) Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos compared to a family of four living below the poverty line? I think that as a society we have to pass judgment on this.