A number of countries and companies have long worried that the costs of tackling climate change (prevention, mitigation, adaptation, etc.) will be prohibitive, and they would rather deal with the consequences, according to Anup Shah of GlobalIssues.org. He offers the example of Canada pulling out of the Kyoto climate treaty in 2010. Canada cited the $14 billion (CAN) cost to taxpayers as one of its chief concerns, yet economic studies have consistently shown that the costs of inaction could soar into the trillions.
Concerns about costs often ignore the other benefits of action. A decrease in harmful greenhouse gases won’t only benefit the economy, but also our health (which will in term benefit the economy as well). Reducing our use of fossil fuels may have some geopolitical benefits, too. For example, less reliance on fossil fuels could help reduce military and geopolitical involvement in other parts of the world, which itself is expensive. Shah points out that not taking these factors into consideration means our calculations on the economic impacts, both positive and negative, of climate change are inaccurate. To learn more about related topics such as energy security, browse Global Issues’ other articles.
So what’s the solution? Shah hints that we need simply to correct our way of thinking. According to economist Paul Krugman, “The idea that economic growth and climate action are incompatible may sound hardheaded and realistic, but it’s actually a fuzzy-minded misconception. If we ever get past the special interests and ideology that have blocked action to save the planet, we’ll find that it’s cheaper and easier than almost anyone imagines.”
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