Costs

COSTS

A landmark 2015 study published in the journal Nature concluded that an average local temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit is economically optimal, especially for agricultural productivity, but that economic productivity lessens as temperatures rise. The study’s authors said that the damage caused by anthropogenic climate change had been significantly underestimated.

Not coincidentally, wealthy countries like the United States, France, China, and Japan fall in that temperature range. But a half-century’s worth of data, the authors said, demonstrate that wealthy countries are nearly as vulnerable to a warmer world as poorer countries. And countries with hotter climates, which tend to be poorer, will be even harder hit by climate change.

A stunning 77 percent of countries will be poorer in 2100 if fossil fuel use continues on its historic trajectory, the study found.

More recently, a team of climate and Earth scientists and economists concluded that the economic risks of climate change have been grossly underestimating or omitting many of the most serious consequences, in part because there is no precedent in human history for a world in which we are warming the climate far faster than natural events ever have.

The New York Times is keeping tabs, noting that the present regime is reversing nearly 100 environmental rules. It has “weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and from cars and trucks,” and rolled back many more rules.

Unless nations around the world adhere, at the very least, to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as pledged in the Paris Climate Agreement, the economic costs of climate change will soon come into sharper focus.

A 2019 study by federal Environmental Protection Agency predicted an annual cost for unchecked climate change of hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century. The E.P.A. study saw “water shortages, crippled infrastructure, and polluted air that shortens lives,” among other damages.

However, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a warming planet would sharply cut that annual cost the study found.

The illustration below depicts specific climate events and the devastating economic consequences of wildfires and extreme weather events.

CREDIT: NOAA

CURRENT NEWS

You’ve Never Heard of Him, but He’s Remaking the Pollution Fight

By Coral Davenport 06/02/23
This spring the Biden administration proposed or implemented eight major environmental regulations, including the nation’s toughest climate rule, rolling out what experts say are the most ambitious limits on polluting industries by the government in…
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Debt Crisis Looms for Poorer Nations Most Vulnerable to Climate Change

By Antony Sguazzin, Ronojoy Mazumdar, and Prinesha Naidoo 05/30/23
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif warned world leaders at the COP27 climate talks last November that developing nations risk falling into a “financial debt trap” if they're forced to turn to the markets to cover…
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Climate Change Is Exacerbating Inflation Worldwide

By Avery Ellfeldt 05/30/23
Climate change is accelerating inflation in dozens of countries around the world, new research says. And the trend is expected to continue as the world heats up.
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Supreme Court Helps Cities and States Battle Climate Change

By Patrick Parenteau and John Dernbach 05/28/23
Honolulu has lost more than 5 miles of its famous beaches to sea level rise and storm surges. Sunny-day flooding during high tides makes many city roads impassable, and water mains for the public drinking…
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Opinion: El Niño is back. What does that mean for an already overheated California?

By Justin S. Mankin and Christopher W. Callahan 05/25/23
During the El Niño of 1983, Californians counted their blessings. The warm Pacific waters sloshing eastward certainly brought heavy spring rains and record snow. But the state largely escaped the flood risks being frantically managed…
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What Exxon Won’t Tell You About Climate Costs

By Mark Gongloff and Liam Denning 05/24/23
Paying for restaurant meals is a cost. Taking classes to learn how to cook your own meals is an investment. Similarly, suffering through the effects of climate change is a cost, but spending money to…
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The Health Costs Of Climate Hazards Are Piling Up

By Dr. Vijay Limaye and Dr. Kim Knowlton 05/23/23
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this month released its latest tally of the toll of climate and weather disasters across the country, part of its work since 1980 to catalog the most expensive…
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Quantifying the human cost of global warming

By Timothy M. Lenton and others 05/22/23
The costs of climate change are often estimated in monetary terms, but this raises ethical issues. Here we express them in terms of numbers of people left outside the ‘human climate niche’—defined as the historically…
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Social cost of carbon estimates have increased over time

By Richard S. J. Tol 05/15/23
Estimates of the social cost of carbon are the yardstick for climate policy targets. However, there is great uncertainty and we do not know how estimates have evolved over time. Here I present a meta-analysis…
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Climate change mitigation costs reduction caused by socioeconomic-technological transitions

By Shinichiro Fujimori, Ken Oshiro, Tomoko Hasegawa, Junya Takakura & Kayo Ueda 05/04/23
Numerical scenarios generated by Integrated Assessment Models describing future energy and land-use systems that attain climate change mitigation goals have been considered important sources of guidance for climate policymaking. The climate change mitigation cost is…
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India’s cost of adapting to climate change needs seen at $1 trillion by 2030, report says

By Swati Bhat 05/03/23
India will spend an estimated 85.6 trillion rupees ($1.05 trillion) by 2030 to adapt its various industries to be compliant with climate change norms, a report by the country's central bank said on Wednesday.
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Climate change could spur severe economic losses, Biden administration says

By Zoya Teirstein 03/22/23
Climate change is generating major economic problems in the United States, the Biden administration said in an annual report published this week. The assumptions that higher-income countries like the U.S. would safely weather the risks…
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KEY RESOURCES

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Overview

10/22/21
In 2021 (as of October 8), there have been 18 weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each to affect the United States. These events included 1 drought event, 2 flooding events, 9 severe…

Assessing the U.S. Climate in June 2021

07/21/21
The June contiguous U.S. temperature was 72.6°F, 4.2°F above the 20th-century average, ranking warmest in the 127-year record and surpassing the previous record for June set in 2016 by 0.9°F. The year-to-date average temperature for…

Addressing the human cost in a changing climate

07/06/21
Climate change is leading to systemic and existential impacts, and evidence is mounting that these can result in the displacement of human populations. There is a rapidly growing demand for comprehensive risk assessments that include…

Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk

05/25/21
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1. Policy. The intensifying impacts of climate change…

Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States

10/01/20
Costing out the effects of climate change.

Water: A human and business priority

08/14/20
Water is the lifeblood of humanity. With it, communities thrive. But, when the supply and demand of fresh water are misaligned, the delicate environmental, social, and financial ecosystems on which we all rely are at…

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Mapping

08/05/20
Use the interactive mapping tool below to better visualize the frequency and cost of billion-dollar weather and climate events.

Stopping Global Warming Will Cost $50 Trillion: Morgan Stanley Report

02/05/20
A new report from Morgan Stanley analysts finds that the cost of halting climate change by 2050 will require trillions of dollars of investment in five key ares of zero-carbon technology.

The New Climate Economy: Accelerating Climate Action in Urgent Times

12/09/19
A 2018 report released by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate suggests that the world could reap $26 trillion and gain 65 million new jobs by 2030 if governments were to carry out…

Carbon Shock: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy: How Carbon Is Changing the Cost of Everything (2011)

01/10/19
In Carbon Shock, veteran journalist Mark Schapiro takes readers on a journey into a world where the same chaotic forces reshaping our natural world are also transforming the economy, playing havoc with corporate calculations, shifting…

Climate Change Will Cost Taxpayers Billions In Near Future, Federal Report Shows

11/26/18
By 2100, the country’s GDP could shrink by 10 percent, triggering an economic crisis twice as damaging as the Great Recession.

MORE NEWS

The P.G. & E. Bankruptcy and the Coming Climate-Related Business Failures

By Sheelah Kolhatkar   02/26/19  
The California-based utility may be the most high-profile company to face collapse for reasons linked to climate change, but it won’t be the last.
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Climate disasters cost the world $650 billion over 3 years — Americans are bearing the brunt: Morgan Stanley

By Tom DiChristopher   02/14/19  
North America absorbed two-thirds of the global cost of climate disasters over the last three years, Morgan Stanley says.
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Wildfires, hurricanes and other extreme weather cost the nation 247 lives, nearly $100 billion in damage during 2018

By Chris Mooney   02/06/19  
Experts say that climate change might already be fueling an increase in the number of billion-dollar disasters.
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Climate Change’s Giant Impact on the Economy: 4 Key Issues

By Neil Irwin   01/17/19  
Using increasingly sophisticated modeling, researchers are calculating how each tenth of a degree of global warming is likely to play out in economic terms. Their projections carry large bands of uncertainty, because of the vagaries…
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Why climate change is going to clobber our economy

By Bob Keefe   01/10/19  
Never mind record temperatures, flooding, wildfires and rising seas. Recent reports about the state of climate change send another warning about its impacts: It’s going to clobber our economy.
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Americans Will Pay Billions More For Climate Change, and That’s the Best Case

By Eric Roston   11/23/18  
A grim U.S. government assessment of global warming’s economic impact gives a whole new meaning to Black Friday.
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Social cost of carbon: why climate change is a global injustice

By Umair Irfan   09/27/18  
All efforts to fight climate change face the money test: Are the benefits of stopping global warming — and avoiding sea level rise, heat waves, and wildfires — greater than the costs?
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Millions of unwitting Americans paying $1 billion more for dirty coal energy each year when cleaner, cheaper sources available

By Jon Queally   09/26/18  
Millions of U.S. energy consumers across multiple are unwittingly propping up a coal industry by paying more than $1 billion annually over recent years for dirty energy that renewable sources could have provided at much…
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Climate Change Costing US $250 Billion Annually

By Jackson Schroeder   09/25/18  
A recent report from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) shows that the U.S.’s economy will suffer worse from climate change than nearly any other country in the world.
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You’ve Heard of Outsourced Jobs, but Outsourced Pollution? It’s Real, and Tough to Tally Up

By Brad Plumer   09/04/18  
Many wealthy countries have effectively “outsourced” a big chunk of their carbon pollution overseas, by importing more steel, cement and other goods from factories in China and other places, rather than producing it domestically.
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Air Pollution Could Be Costing the Solar Industry Billions

By Maddie Stone   08/30/18  
Air pollution stemming from oil, gas, and coal may be making it harder for solar to gain a foothold. That’s according to a new study that looked at how tiny air pollution particles known as…
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Trump Put a Low Cost on Carbon Emissions. Here’s Why It Matters.

By Brad Plumer   08/23/18  
In its rollback proposals, the Trump administration argued that each ton of carbon dioxide emitted by a car or a coal plant in 2020 would only cause around $1 to $7 in economic damages. That’s…
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Extreme heat, wildfires and the cost of climate change

08/06/18  
Environmental economics expert Sam Fankhauser discusses extreme weather events and says it will become 'the new normal'.
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The World Is Dangerously Lowballing The Economic Cost Of Climate Change, Study Finds news, economy

By Alexander C. Kaufman   06/04/18  
It’s almost impossible to calculate how many trillions of dollars it could cost.
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Study maps out dramatic costs of unmitigated climate change in the U.S.

By Kathleen Maclay   06/29/17  
The poorest third of U.S. counties will likely lose up to 20 percent of their incomes, and regions such as the Pacific Northwest and New England will gain economically over the Gulf and Southern states,…
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Judge Dismisses Suit Against Oil Companies Over Climate Change Costs

By John Shwartz   06/25/18  
The ruling in the closely watched case was a defeat for San Francisco and Oakland, which had sued fossil fuel companies over the costs of a warming world.
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The Cost of Climate Change in Hawaii

By LiAnne Yu   09/06/18  
The world is literally changing and here are six issues we need to understand so we can begin calculating the costs and consequences of climate change and prepare for them. We won’t be able to…
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