The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Delaying Action on Climate Change Could Cause "Substantial Economic Damage," Says White House Report

Climate change The Obama Administration has already implemented a number of climate change policies in the last year to combat phenomena such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, but what are the economic costs of delaying further action? The White House released today a report from the Council Economic of Advisers that seeks to answer this question. The Council's report, The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change, finds that "delaying policy actions by a decade increases total mitigation costs by approximately 40 percent, and failing to take any action would risk substantial economic damage."

In examining the costs of delayed action against climate change, the Council reached two main conclusions:

  • "Although delaying action can reduce costs in the short run, on net, delaying action to limit the effects of climate change is costly. Because CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, delaying action increases CO2 concentrations. Thus, if a policy delay leads to higher ultimate CO2 concentrations, that delay produces persistent economic damages that arise from higher temperatures and higher CO2 concentrations."
  • "Climate policy can be thought of as 'climate insurance' taken out against the most severe and irreversible potential consequences of climate change…Just as businesses and individuals guard against severe financial risks by purchasing various forms of insurance, policymakers can take actions now that reduce the chances of triggering the most severe climate events."

Though U.S. policies to use cleaner sources of energy and improve infrastructure efficiency have been put in motion, this report argues that further steps are urgently needed to ensure "that we leave our children a planet that's not polluted or damaged."