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How much will it cost to fix the climate? The numbers vary.

Even when experts look at the same data, they can come to vastly different conclusions.

By / March 27, 2008

One of the biggest questions about climate change is: What will it cost to fix? Figuring that out is a huge challenge.

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While most scientists believe that global warming already is happening and that human activity is a main reason, predicting future temperature trends decades, if not centuries, from now remains controversial.

What will be the impact on land, water, natural habitat, and people? What will it take and how much will it cost to prevent or adapt to the effects of climate change? Theories involving risk management and cost-benefit ratios are major factors here.

All of this comes together as politicians look for solutions that aim to get the job done without wrecking the US economy.

The proposed Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008, sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut and John Warner (R) of Va., would cap the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause global warming and establish a market-based trading program for companies to meet the cap – a so-called cap-and-trade system. The goal is to lower emissions 63 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2050.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued its economic analysis of the bill. Not surprisingly, supporters and opponents each found things in it to bolster their arguments. Congressional Quarterly quotes Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) of California, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, as saying:

"When you look at all the scenarios the EPA analyzed, the one that most closely reflects the Lieberman-Warner bill's technology driving policies shows that this bill is a winner for the environment, a winner for our economy, and a winner for the planet."

But the piece also quotes Sen. James In­­hofe (R) of Oklahoma, one of the Senate's most vocal critics of global warming, who sees the legislation quite differently:

"Americans will pay significantly more at the pump, in their homes, and in many cases, with their jobs."

Under the Lieberman-Warner bill, US gross domestic product grows 80 percent from 2010 to 2030 – just one percentage point less than projected without the bill. And average annual per-household consumption grows 81 percent over the same period – just two percentage points less than without the bill.