Climate Inaction Will Cost a Third of the World’s Wealth, Lord Stern predicts

We are in the middle of a recession that governments around the world have responded to by pouring hundreds of billions of our tax dollars into failing companies.  I’m not an economist, just a regular citizen who is amazed at what can happen when the political will is present.  That money appeared at the speed of light, because the cause seemed so pressing to those holding the government purse strings.  This must be extremely frustrating for someone like Stephen Lewis, the former UN special envoy to Africa, who for years has been calling on wealthy nations to live up to their financial commitments to fight AIDS in Africa.  And what Lewis was saying would save millions of lives was just a mere 5 to 8 billion dollars a year to ensure equal access to treatment for all.    This is chump change in light of the handouts that AIG, Goldman Sachs, et al,  have received in  the last months.

What does this have to do with climate change?  We are on the brink of global disaster, and still there is not the political will to turn this Titanic around before it hits that (rapidly melting) iceberg.   We , like that ill-fated ocean liner, are barreling full steam ahead, business as usual.  Apparently, most decision makers think fighting climate change  costs too much and is too painful to their country’s economy.  But that is false economic thinking. Former World Bank chief economist Lord Stern has estimated that to keep heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions below levels that would cause catastrophic climate change would cost up to two per cent of global GDP.  Lord Stern initially predicted that failure to act on climate change could cost from five to 20 per cent of global GDP, but recently revised that, saying the cost of inaction would be “50 per cent or more higher” than his previous highest estimate – meaning it could cost a third of the world’s wealth.

David Suzuki says it better than I can:

Let’s be clear. Resolving a global problem like climate change will cost money. But doing nothing will cost much more. The very survival of people, not to mention many other plants and animals that we share this small planet with, may well be at stake.

So, if you haven’t already contacted your Member of Parliament as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice, do so now.  Tell them it’s time to take decisive action on climate change at the UN Climate Talks in Copenhagen in December.  Urge the Conservative government to adopt the same level of coordinated response on climate change that was exhibited earlier this year at G20 negotiations on the economic downturn.

Once you’ve let your elected representatives know how important this issue is, you might want to take a page out of Lord Stern’s book as you plan your supper tonight.  He encourages people to go meatless as one of the best ways to combat climate change.  So, be green and skip the meat today.  And if you already are a vegetarian, and have written to your MP, pour yourself a cold one – or a glass of wine, if you prefer – and sit back and relax.  You’ve done your job of fighting climate change – at least for today!

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