Source: Greenbiz Journal
Economists and scientists are lining up to push the U.S. Congress in the direction of climate change legislation.
The Union of Concerned Scientists released a letter from 1,700 scientists and economists to Congress this morning urging swift action to reduce the nation’s emissions of gasses blamed for global warming. The group, which includes six Nobel Prize winners in science or economics and 30 members of the National Academy of Sciences, calls for greenhouse gas cuts of 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050 and 15-20 percent cuts by 2020.
“The economic and social costs of global warming could be huge. We need to act now to limit them,” said Nobel Prize-winning economist Eric Maskin.
Those costs, said Geoffrey Heal, co-director of the Columbia University Center for Economy, Environment and Society, could amount to 10-20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Trillions of dollars in infrastructure is endangered by rising sea level, agricultural productivity could fall as much as 70 percent, and more disastrous and extreme weather events could carry multi-billion dollar pricetags.
By contrast, he said, most estimates place the cost of taking action to combat climate change at about 1 percent to 2 percent, and much of that cost could be made up by emerging businesses such as sustainable energy.
“Taking action to mitigate climate change is a really good investment,” he said at a press conference. “Taking action creates a whole host of economic opportunities.”
The scientists and economists sent their letter as a U.S. Senate debate on a bill geared at cutting greenhouse gas emissions is expected to begin next week. The bill introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Warner calls for emissions reductions of 70 percent from 2000 levels by 2050.
The debate next week will likely be a preview of policy battles to come. In the U.S. House, several proposals have been floated. Most recently, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., has proposed cutting emissions of greenhouse gas 85% below 2000 levels by 2050, the Wall Street Journal reports.