The Near-Term, Sobering Economic Cost of Climate Change

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That’s how much damage economists expect climate change to cause each year by 2025, if the current warming trend continues, according to a new survey.

Calling its poll the largest-ever expert survey on the economics of climate change, New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity said the results show an “overwhelming consensus that the costs of inaction on climate change are higher than the costs of action”— namely, immediate reductions in emissions. The $1.7 trillion would amount to a 1% decline in projected global gross domestic product (GDP). By 2075, almost $30 trillion per year would be lost, or 5% of GDP, the median estimate of economists surveyed shows.

With slowed economic growth, climate change is also likely to worsen income inequality, with 89% of respondents believing that climate change will exacerbate the gap between wealthier and lower-income nations and 70% saying it will hurt household income inequality within most countries.

The institute said 738 economists with Ph.D.s who have published climate-related research participated in the online survey Feb. 1-11.