White House: Act Now or Pay More Later to Stem Climate Change
by Katie Weatherford, 8/1/2014
Acting now to address the impacts of climate change would produce far more benefits at a much lower cost than waiting until a later date, according to a new White House report, titled The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change. Based on a rigorous analysis of existing studies, the report estimates a 40 percent increase in the cost of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas linked to climate change, for every decade of delay.
The report explains that allowing CO2 concentrations to increase accelerates other climate change impacts, such as rising global temperatures and more ocean acidification. As climate catastrophes become more frequent and intense, more stringent action will be needed to correct course.
The report estimates a 40 percent increase in the cost of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) for every decade of delay.
In the meantime, climate change impacts will continue to compromise the health and safety of our families and planet, possibly causing permanent damage. In fact, as the report points out, we are already witnessing irreversible damage take hold with “the rapid trend towards disappearance of late-summer Arctic ice,” as well as the “loss of a significant percentage of marine and terrestrial species.”
Rather than taking more costly and less certain action in the future, the U.S. must act now to mitigate these impacts by moving forward with implementing the president’s Climate Action Plan. A major component of the plan requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new, modified, and existing power plants, which are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. Finalizing these carbon limits in the near-term will not only cost less, but it will also generate substantial benefits to the public and the environment.
According to EPA’s estimates, the strategies used to limit CO2 emissions from existing power plants would prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths, 150,000 childhood asthma attacks, and 490,000 missed school and work days and would deliver additional benefits from reduced climate change impacts. Moreover, the rule would create tens of thousands of jobs across the country. EPA’s proposed rules to limit carbon emissions from new and modified power plants add to the public health and environmental benefits by ensuring cost-effective, low-carbon technologies are utilized in the future to reduce carbon dioxide pollution at the source.
The U.S. must act now to mitigate these impacts by moving forward with implementing the president’s Climate Action Plan.
As the new White House report explains, acting now “sends a strong signal to the market to spur the investments that will reduce mitigation costs in the future.” Adequate investment in new technologies will generate wealth, not just for those creating or utilizing new technologies, but for the entire world due to the benefit of a healthier environment.
EPA is seeking input from the public about these rules and has just started a round of public meetings on its existing power plant proposal. EPA is also requesting comments on the proposal until Oct. 16. Share your support for these rules and urge EPA to act now to reduce carbon pollution.