Monday, August 10, 2009

The Core Narrative of Climate Change – 9

How much GNP does a country sacrifice for avoiding climate change? We saw a partial answer by using the IPCC scenarios discussed a few weeks ago. (See “The Core Narrative … - 5” below.) The choice becomes A1 versus a low growth family of scenarios (the B family). The contrast now becomes striking when you ask how much economic growth would the Developing World have to sacrifice. Here are the IPCC figures for projected World GNP: A1B: $528.5 trillion, B1: $334 trillion. But that is not the end of the story. This figure does not take into account the costs of climate change itself. But can we arrive at an overall calculus? Through the IPCC, we have a rough accounting of the number of people living in low-lying coastal zone as a proportion of total population. Through Oxfam, we have the same for those more generally vulnerable to the effects of climate change. But that does not really help. Before we consider these populations, we need to ask this: is there some general way to calculate the costs of climate change that we can deduct from the GNP figures above. That is to say, if A1B yields a $194.5 trillion dollar advantage over B1, what is the associated climate cost?

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