Home >Lounge >Features >Climate Change Tracker: Follow the money

The most compelling reason to halt climate change is that a warming earth would pose an existential threat to our species. And covid-19 has proved conclusively, if proof were required, how connected modern human systems are.

However, the question of how much climate change mitigation will cost national economies is often a stumbling block. Many studies have proved that shifting to zero-carbon energy will actually save money. Now, a new study in Nature, titled Self-Preservation Strategy For Approaching Global Warming Targets In The Post-Paris Agreement Era, by Yi-Ming Wei et al gives us another benchmark of these costs.

Click here to listen to all the episodes from the first season of Mint Climate Change Tracker podcast

In it, a team of climate scientists calculated strategies to improve individual country commitments for mitigation to arrive at models that would maximize economic gains. They found that if countries fall short of their current NDCs (nationally determined contributions), then climate stresses would shrink the global economy by over $600 trillion ( 45,600 trillion) by 2100 (as compared to 2011).

If, on the other hand, countries do what is required to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement goal, then the world’s economy will see an accumulative income of $336 trillion by 2070, as a result of “increased welfare" caused by checking the rise in global temperature. The Paris Agreement seeks to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 but subsequent reports have stated that countries should aim to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid a catastrophic reordering of the planet, from sea-level rise to mass extinctions. If we meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, it’s estimated that the accumulative income will be $422.1 trillion. But current NDCs are not sufficient for these targets.

The report says countries will have to incur costs upfront to invest in technologies and policy changes to move away from fossil fuels. India, for example, would need to invest $5-35 trillion by 2035 and maintain stringent policies to reach zero-carbon emissions by 2055. Doing so would earn it about $40 trillion in cumulative net income by 2100. As the report says, if countries care about their self-interest, they should spend now to avoid massive costs later.

Follow the column with #MintClimateTracker. Click here to listen to the first season of the Mint Climate Change Tracker podcast hosted by Bibek Bhattacharya

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