Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What is the Cost of Inaction on Climate Change?

Climate Change in the U.S. - Benefits of Global Action (96 page pdf, Environmental Protection Agency, Sep. 7, 2015)

Also discussed here: Can we put a value on the benefits of climate action? (Mark Dwortzan, World Economic Forum, Sep 7 2015)

Today we review an assessment of the benefits of taking action on climate change and the costs of inaction on cutting carbon emissions to limit climate warming to less than 2 C that would be realized by the end of the century in the Unites States. Impacts are many and widespread and vary in nature and cost across the various regions of the USA. Mitigation would prevent 57,000 premature deaths by 2100 with an economic benefit of $930 B. In the Great Lakes region, 520 bridges are vulnerable compared to 53 with mitigation. In the Southwest, the number of droughts and heat waves is expected to quadruple by2100 while under mitigation no increase is seen. In the Rocky Mountains, nearly 2 million more acres of forests will burn by 2100 compared to 1.5 million less with mitigation, compared to today.

 benefits heat waves USA  

Key Quotes:

“We have much more experience defining the cost of mitigation than the benefits. The goal of this project was to put a dollar value on damages from climate change in a number of sectors.”

“with no policy implemented between now and 2100, increases in global temperature will range from 3.5 to 8 degrees C, precipitation from 0.3 to 0.6 millimeters per day and sea level from 40 to 80 centimeters. Ocean acidity will also rise, threatening marine life and commercial fisheries.”

“2 C stabilization would save thousands of lives threatened by extreme heat and billions of dollars in infrastructure expenses, while preventing destruction of natural resources and ecosystems.”

“In more than 35 studies, the EPA-funded researchers pinpointed a large number of climate impacts that could be averted, or at least reduced, by a 2 C stabilization, from lost wages due to extreme temperatures, to damage to bridges from heavy river flows.”

“Unmitigated climate change is projected to exacerbate fine particulate matter pollution, especially in the Midwest and East. The annual U.S.-average PM2.5 concentrations are projected to increase by 0.3 μg m-3 (± 0.1) in 2050 and 0.7 μg m-3 (± 0.1) in 2100 in the Reference scenario.”

“the Mitigation scenario is estimated to prevent an estimated 13,000 premature deaths in 2050 (95% confidence interval of 4,800-22,000) and 57,000 premature deaths in 2100 (95% confidence interval of 21,000-95,000) compared to the Reference. Economic benefits to the U.S. of these avoided deaths are estimated at $160 billion and $930 billion in 2050 and 2100, respectively.”

“In the Great Lakes region, approximately 520 bridges are projected to be vulnerable in 2100 under the Reference scenario, compared to 65 in the Mitigation scenario.”

“In 2100, the Great Plains region is projected to incur road damages of approximately $3.5 billion in the Reference scenario, compared to $1.1 billion in the Mitigation scenario.”

 “In the Southwest, the number of severe and extreme droughts is projected to nearly quadruple by the end of the century in the Reference scenario compared to today. In the Mitigation scenario, the incidence of drought is not projected to change substantially from present day.”

 “In the Rocky Mountains, an estimated 1.9 million more acres are projected to burn in 2100 under the Reference scenario compared to today. In the Mitigation scenario, an estimated 1.5 million fewer acres are projected to burn compared to today.”

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