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The economic cost of ignoring the climate crisis



A failure to cut pollution will cost governments around the world hundreds of billions, according to University of Cambridge economists who used artificial intelligence to forecast climate change’s effect on sovereign credit ratings.

If emissions continue at current levels, 63 countries will see rating downgrades of more than one notch by 2030, according to the group, which includes Moritz Kraemer, S&P Global Ratings’ former chief sovereign ratings officer. The U.S. grade would drop by two notches, and as much as three levels for Germany, India and the Netherlands.

An additional interest payment on sovereign debt caused by the climate-induced downgrades alone could cost governments between $137 billion and $205 billion increase in annual interest payments in the next eight decades and would represent “a mere sliver of the economic consequences of untrammeled emissions,” a team of economists said. The additional cost to corporations can be around $62 billion.

Global warming’s made India’s economy 31 per cent smaller than it would otherwise have been, according to a new Stanford study highlighting how temperature changes have widened inequalities between cool countries like Norway while dragging down growth in hot places like India. The World Bank calculates climate change will shave nearly 3 per cent off India’s GDP and depress the living standards of nearly half its population by 2050. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction estimates India suffered $79.5 billion in economic losses in 19 years due to climate-change disasters.

We don’t need experts to tell us what is happening. It’s visible before our eyes. It’s time for a people’s movement to make combating toxic air and climate change a top priority. And it must start now. Pollution-sucking smog towers being sought by the Supreme Court may be a band-aid, but they aren’t the answer. We need collective action at an individual, industrial, and policy level to avert the impending disaster that threatens to engulf us all.