The cost of ‘climate action’ is at least $5.2 trillion to avert 0.2 degrees of warming

By Michael Bastasch

The United Nations is demanding more “climate action,” urging member countries to spend mobilize trillions of dollars more to fight man-made global warming.

UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa said “the very fabric of life on Earth is under threat” from global warming “We must act right here, right now,” Espinosa told delegates and activists gathered in Bonn, Germany for another round of climate talks.

In particular, UN climate bureaucrats are asking countries to be more ambitious in their plans to meet the Paris accord. That’s a request that experts expect will cost the world trillions of more dollars in the coming decades.

S&P Global Markets’ new report puts the price at $5.2 trillion to implement national-level plans to comply with the Paris agreement. But that figure is based on financial estimates individual countries submitted to the UN.

“Of the 189 countries that have submitted NDCs, only about 60 have included specific financial estimates of the costs, meaning the total would likely tally up far beyond the $5 trillion stated,” S&P reported, which adds that spending is not nearly enough to meet the goals of the Paris accord.

However, the UN estimates national plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions to shave 0.2 degrees Celsius off projected 3.2 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100. (This, of course, assumes the climate models have it right, which may not be the case.)

That’s $5.2 trillion to avert 0.2 degrees Celsius of projected warming.

In signing the Paris accord, nearly 200 countries agreed to cut emissions enough to keep future global warming under 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The accord’s stretch goal is keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The UN’s “emissions gap” report claims the world is only cutting emissions one-third of what’s needed to avoid “dangerous” global warming and comply with the Paris accord. Of course, that’s going to take more money.

S&P’s $5.2 trillion would be just a starting point in that case. Economists and policy experts have put forward a wide range of estimates on what it would cost to fight global warming.

A recent Stanford University report put the cost of meeting the Paris accord at $58 trillion over the next 25 years. That comes out to about $2.3 trillion a year for the next quarter century.

The Energy Transitions Commission’s (ETC) estimated it would cost $15 trillion, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance said $12.7 trillion was needed to keep projected global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

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2 thoughts on “The cost of ‘climate action’ is at least $5.2 trillion to avert 0.2 degrees of warming

  1. COP21/IPCC CO2 EMISSION REDUCTION GOALS AND REQUIRED ANNUAL CAPITAL COSTS

    1 The world CO2eq emissions, all sources, are on a “business as usual” trajectory to become about 64.7 b Mt by 2030. If so, the increase above pre-industrial would be about 4.3 C by 2100.

    Current world investments in RE systems of about $280 b/y, which have been about the same for the 2011 – 2016 period (6 years), likely would lead to emissions of about 64.7 b Mt by 2030. China has spent about $80 b/y during the past 3 years to finally deal with its horrendous pollution problems.

    2 The world CO2eq emissions, all sources, would be about 58.9 b Mt by 2030, with full implementation of all policies and pledges made prior to COP21. If so, the increase would be about 3.7 C by 2100. Investments of at least $600 b/y, starting immediately, would be required to achieve the IPCC trajectory of 58.9 b Mt by 2030.

    3 The world CO2eq emissions, all sources, would be about 55.2 b Mt by 2030, with full implementation of UNCONDITIONAL COP21 pledges by 2030. If so, the increase would be about 3.2 C by 2100.

    4 The world CO2eq emissions, all sources, would be about 52.8 b Mt by 2030, with full implementation of CONDITIONAL COP21 pledges by 2030. If so, the increase would be about 3.0 C by 2100.

    5 The world CO2eq emissions, all sources, would be about 41.8 b Mt by 2030, with an ADDITIONAL 11.6 b Mt of CO2eq emissions reduction by 2030. If so, the increase would be about 2.0 C by 2100. That additional reduction is not trivial, as it is equivalent to about 12 times the total annual emissions of the entire EU28 transportation sector.

    6 The world CO2eq emissions, all sources, would be about 36.5 b Mt by 2030, with an ADDITIONAL 16.9 b Mt of CO2eq emissions reduction by 2030. If so, the increase would be about 1.5 C by 2100. Investments of at least $1.5 trillion/y, starting immediately, would be required to achieve the IPCC trajectory of 36.5 b Mt by 2030

    NOTE: A recent estimate by IPCC is $1.9 trillion/y.

    The additional quantities of 5 and 6 are on top of 2, 3 and 4!!!

    NOTE 2: The emission reduction would become about 1.0 b Mt less, due to the US withdrawal from COP21, which means other nations would have to make up the difference, not only regarding emission reduction, but also regarding the anticipated US contribution to the Green Climate Fund, about $25 b in 2020, and much greater annual amounts thereafter. China and India, major polluters and claiming “developing nation status”, would not pay a dime.

  2. Those estimates are much too low.

    The world is currently spending about $300 billion per year and CO2eq is still increasing.
    Spending would need to at least double to get that CO2eq trajectory to flatten and then to at least triple to get it to go down.

    But then the slope of the downward trajectory would have to become steeper to achieve CO2eq targets for 2030, and much lower targets beyond 2030.

    It would take about $1.5 trillion per year during the 2017-2030 period to achieve 2 degree C above pré-industrial.

    It would take about $2.0 trillion per year for 1.5 C

    After 2030, the cost per year would be higher, because it would become increasingly more difficult for each additional CO2eq reduction.

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