Report: The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change

Jul 30, 2014 | Erin Roberts

On July 29, the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released a report on the economic consequences of delaying action on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). One major finding: based on the field’s leading aggregate damage estimate, a policy delay that results in global warming of 3º Celsius over pre-industrial levels, could increase economic damages by 0.9% of global output. Consider that 0.9% of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product is roughly $150 billion.

The report focuses on targets limiting greenhouse gas concentrations, which in the report are expressed as concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and CO2-equivalent (CO2e) emissions (e.g. methane). In its report, the CEA asserts that the true costs of excessive CO2e emissions to society are not reflected in the market price of carbon-based energy (i.e. fossil fuels and biofuels). A “negative externality” exists – society is shouldering external costs for which producers do not take responsibility.

The report examines two types of costs to society: costs related to the impacts of ever-increasing CO2e concentrations and costs related to delaying policies that reduce emissions. Regardless of policy delays, CO2e continues to accumulate. This accumulation results in further economic losses through damage caused by extreme weather events, decreased agricultural production, climate change-related healthcare costs, etc. In the second case, policy delays mean that once a policy is implemented, the situation has already changed – the CO2e emissions have already increased, further damage has already occurred, requiring a more stringent policy. And stringent policies are more costly to implement.

The report strongly supports the timely uptake of climate policies that reduce GHG emissions. They describe such policies as a form of “climate insurance” taken out against the possible extreme consequences of climate change. For interested readers, the report also offers analysis of existing “delay” literature in support of its findings.

Local health departments often cite a lack of funding in their inability to address climate change. Has your jurisdiction experienced the economic impacts of climate change? Do you feel that funding and policies directed at climate change mitigation will result in lower costs in the long run?


About Erin Roberts

More posts by Erin Roberts

Related Posts

Ready npm web
  • Tools & Resources
  • Community Engagement

Tri-County Health Department Helps Community Prepare

During this, National Preparedness Month, see how the Tri-County Health...

Sep 24, 2021 | Guest Author

Tri-County Health Department Helps Community Prepare

Teach youth web
  • Tools & Resources

National Preparedness Month 2021: Teach Youth About...

This fourth week of National Preparedness Month is a great time to teach youth...

Sep 24, 2021 | Beth Hess

National Preparedness Month 2021: Teach Youth About...

  • Webinar

Register for the Billing & 340B for Health Department...

This webinar will share what we learned about the local health department’s use...

Sep 24, 2021 | Jas Florentino

Register for the Billing & 340B for Health Department...

Sexual health clinic sign
  • Community Engagement

How Do LHDs work with Retail Health Clinics and...

NACCHO is interested in learning how local health departments may be working...

Sep 24, 2021 | Jas Florentino

How Do LHDs work with Retail Health Clinics and...

Capitol Dome with Mic typeface display V3
  • Podcast

Podcast from Washington: Authors of Broke in America:...

Ian Goldstein speaks with the authors of Broke in America: Seeing,...

Sep 24, 2021 | Ian Goldstein

Podcast from Washington: Authors of Broke in America:...

Capitol Dome with Mic typeface display V3
  • Podcast

Podcast from Washington: Equitable Approaches to...

Ian Goldstein speaks with Ethan Johnson, Communications and Performance...

Sep 24, 2021 | Ian Goldstein

Podcast from Washington: Equitable Approaches to...

  • Tools & Resources

Low Income Housing and The Role of Asbestos

Homes built before 1980 are at a higher risk of having been built with asbestos...

Sep 24, 2021

Low Income Housing and The Role of Asbestos

Legal eagles
  • Webinar
  • Health Ethics & Law
  • Training

Webinar Wrap-Up: Public Health Competency Model for...

Here’s a wrap-up of the webinar hosted by NACCHO and ChangeLab Solutions,...

Sep 23, 2021 | Alix Ware

Webinar Wrap-Up: Public Health Competency Model for...

Summer 2021 Exchange cover
  • COVID-19
  • Tools & Resources
  • Health Equity & Social Justice
  • Maternal, Child, & Adolescent Health

NACCHO Summer Exchange 2021: COVID-19

The Summer 2021 issue of NACCHO Exchange showcases the ways in which local...

Sep 23, 2021 | Beth Hess

NACCHO Summer Exchange 2021: COVID-19

Back to Top