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Delaying Climate Action Would Triple Future Energy and Mitigation Costs

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Putting off global efforts to fight climate change until 2030 could increase the costs of short-term mitigation by more than three times, according to new research.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 2013.

Published in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, the study looked at the economic impacts of possible international climate agreements.

If an agreement was reached to start taking action in 2015 to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, then international economic growth would be cut back by two percent. Delaying those steps until 2030 would mean growth curtailed by around seven percent.

The report’s lead author Gunnar Luderer said:

For the first time, our study quantifies the short-term costs of tiptoeing when confronted with the climate challenge. Economists tend to look at how things balance out in the long-term, but decision-makers understandably worry about additional burdens for people and businesses they are responsible for right now.

So increased short-term costs due to delaying climate policy might deter decision-makers from starting the transformation. The initial costs of climate policies thus can be more relevant than the total costs.

Governments are currently working towards a new global agreement on climate change to be in place by 2015. The new research highlights the importance of not postponing mitigation.

The later climate policy is implemented the faster emissions will have to be reduced if countries are to achieve their internationally agreed target of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This will make such policies more expensive. The researchers also examined the impact of climate policy on energy prices.

If emissions are delayed beyond 2030, global energy price levels are likely to increase by 80 percent in the short term, they found. If an agreement was reached in 2015, short-term energy price rises could be limited to 25 percent.

Such price increases are particularly concerning because of the burden they put on the world’s poor.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

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