Fighting global warming may be a lucrative investment. A study from Stanford University finds that keeping global warming a half-degree beneath the Paris climate agreement’s 2-degree Celsius target could potentially save more than $20 trillion globally.
The findings, in the journal Nature, go beyond the environmental and health benefits to highlight the economic rewards for reducing global warming.
Since the Industrial Age, Earth’s temperature has risen at an alarming rate, thanks largely to the greenhouse gases produced by human activity. The 2015 Paris climate agreement set out to place limits on warming — 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels by 2100. It also set a more ambitious target of reducing that increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Countries were free to implement their own programs to reach that target, but research has shown that those commitments would be able to limit the rise only to 3 degrees by century’s end.
Scientists found that if temperatures stayed within the more ambitious 1.5 degree target, there’s a good chance that these reductions would save the world roughly 3 percent of global GDP, or around $30 trillion dollars, said Marshall Burke of Stanford University. If the global temperatures are kept only within the 3 degree Celsius target, scientists say, it likely would cost an additional 5 to 10 percent of global GDP. They also found a high likelihood that 71 percent of countries, representing 90 percent of the population, would face less economic harm if the increase were kept to 1.5 degrees.