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May 25, 2018  |  Login
ecomii guides guide to global warming
In partnership with:  Union of Concerned Scientists

Won't the economy suffer if we address global warming?

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Some solutions to reduce global warming may cost businesses small amounts up front (though some will save money), but in the long run, the economy will likely suffer more if we wait until the worst consequences of global warming occur. According to a British government report, if action is not taken to curb global carbon emissions climate change could cost between 5% and 20% of the global gross domestic product each year, now and forever. These costs refer to the costs of the impacts and risks from climate change. But if we do something now, the costs of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be somewhere around 1% of global gross domestic product.1

So don’t let someone tell you that not knowing exactly what will happen because of global warming is a good reason to do nothing. The fact is we can look at the problem of global warming as an opportunity—a chance to build new industries, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and promote energy independence. And we will build a healthier, stronger, and more secure nation in the process.

A Stitch in Time

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“Reducing our impact on the global climate does not have to hurt the world's economies. The answer depends much on the 'how' and 'when.'

"The challenge is to strike a balance between responding early enough to avoid major negative (costly) impacts, and responding some time later in order to avoid taking big, expensive steps now which then may turn out to be unnecessary or inappropriate. This type of challenge is typical in business and industry; decision-making under uncertainty is the daily bread of most managers.

"Clearly, global warming still involves many unknowns, but the remaining uncertainties in our scientific understanding no longer warrant a 'wait and see' stance. Science tells us with increasing certainty that we are in for a serious long-term problem that will affect all of us.

"And there is much we can do now that makes sense in terms of the economic bottom line while helping to reduce our impact on the global climate and on our local environment and health. The United States and other developed countries should seize the opportunity to take the lead in developing new, clean, energy-efficient technologies, and help developing countries take a greener path to economic prosperity. All of this can be done in a cost-effective manner, while creating jobs and new business opportunities.”2

1 The Stern Review: Economics of Climate Change; Summary of Conclusions, (2006). [online] Available from: [3 December 2007]

2 Union of Concerned Scientists (8 March 2007). [online] Excerpted from:[3 December 2007]


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