Republicans in Congress, dim-witted politicians abroad, and fossil-fuel companies would all like you to believe that taking action on climate change is too expensive. Better to blow all our cash and credit on unsustainable oil and coal today and live large and dirty for as long as possible, they argue.
Cue World Bank study.
The international lender, which has been belatedly waking up to the dangers of climate change in recent years, modeled the potential costs and benefits of using taxes, incentives, and regulations to clean up key sectors of some of the world’s biggest economies. It analyzed reforms that could spur cleaner transportation, more efficient industrial use of energy, and less energy-hungry buildings and appliances. It concluded that such reforms would create GDP growth of $1.8 trillion to $2.6 trillion per year by 2030.
Oh, and it would prevent 94,000 premature deaths annually.
In many cases, the analysts looked at local case studies, such as the benefits of providing rural Chinese with cleaner cookstoves and improving public transportation in an Indian city, then considered what the impacts would be if those initiatives were scaled up to national or regional levels. They concluded that the public-health, economic-development, food-supply, and energy-supply benefits of reforms in those key sectors far outweighed the costs of the reforms.
“Thanks to a growing body of research, it is now clear that climate-smart development can boost employment and can save millions of lives,” states the World Bank report, released Tuesday. “Smart development policies and projects can also slow the pace of adverse climate changes. Based on this new scientific understanding, and with the development of new economic modeling tools to quantify these benefits, it is clear that the objectives of economic development and climate protection can be complementary.”