Economists claim an “immediate action” against climate change

A crescent amount of climate economists affirm the world must take “drastic and immediate actions” to address climate change, according to a poll published in the last weeks. 

If this fails, it could cost the world $1.7 trillion a year starting in the middle of this decade, increasing to $30 trillion annually by the year 2075. This calculation was made by 738 economists from around the world surveyed by New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity.

“People say how funny it is that economists can’t agree on most things (…) But we have found a very strong consensus on the role of the economy on climate action” manifests Derek Sylvan, the institute’s strategy director and one of the authors of the poll.

Taking note

A 45% of the respondents firmly believe that drastic action against climate change should be taken as soon as possible, in comparison with 50% of the economists surveyed by the same institute in 2015. 

Illustration by Living Digital

In another question related to net-zero emissions for 2050, 66,67% affirm that the costs of investing in this ambitious goal could be exceeded by the economic benefits, which include preventing natural disasters, preserving coastal infrastructure, and protecting food supplies. 

To prevent a tragic climate change, scientists estimate that the world needs to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, which means that people can’t add more emissions to the air that they are already removing.

Sylvan said he was shocked that so many colleagues see net-zero action as an “economically desirable” event in the short time they have. Most of the climate economists interviewed in February for the poll said they have become more concerned about climate change now than in the last five years. The most popular reason was the escalation of extreme water events like climate-linked wildfires and heatwaves.

The world has experienced more than 7300 major natural disasters between 2000 and 2019, killing 1.2 million people and generating $3 trillion in damages, according to the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction. This can only be compared with the 4.200 disasters that occurred in the 20 years previous, which led to 1.19 million killed and $1.6 trillion in damages.

“Some places are more exposed than others and their levels of current income matter a big deal” affirm Michael Greenstone, an economist at the University of Chicago and the Director of the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago. The consequences of climate change are impacting people and nations.

Economic disparities make it difficult to apply cost-benefit analysis. For example, a needed family will suffer economic losses more than a rich family. “How do we think about $1 of climate damage to a billionaire versus a family of 4 who live below the poverty line? As a society we should make a judgement about that” think Greenstone.

As a company with a mission to use recycling as a source of profit and in turn, make big changes in the planet, eSmart Recycling recommends that world governments invest a significant portion of their human and financial resources in stopping climate change. 


Carmen María Cermeño
Carmen María Cermeño

Journalist/ Digital Curator

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