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Climate Change:
Costs of Inaction for the United States


The Cost of Climate Change: What We’ll Pay if Global Warming Continues Unchecked is a study of the costs of inaction for the U.S. economy by Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton.  Commissioned by the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), this report presents both a detailed analysis of four major categories of climate costs, and comprehensive modeling of climate impacts on the economy as a whole.

The detailed analysis shows that under business-as-usual conditions, with no new climate policies, the four cost categories – increased hurricane damages, residential real estate losses due to sea level rise, increased energy costs, and water supply costs – will add up to $1.9 trillion (in today’s dollars), or 1.8 percent of U.S. output per year by 2100.   

The comprehensive modeling employs the PAGE model, used in the Stern Review. A revised version of the PAGE forecasts, created for this study, projects even greater impacts, as much as 3.6 percent of U.S. GDP, or $3.8 trillion in today’s dollars, by 2100. Even this larger figure is probably an underestimate, since some important impacts cannot be adequately captured in the model’s calculations.

Contributing authors to the study are Jeremy Fisher and Bruce Biewald of Synapse Energy Economics, for the energy analysis, and Chris Hope and Stephan Alberth of Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, for the PAGE modeling.

The executive summary and the full text of the report are both available from NRDC .

Supporting documents:

Climate Change and the U.S. Economy: The Costs of Inaction, by the same authors, presents a more technical version of the analysis, which forms the basis for the NRDC report and presents additional explanation and documentation.

US climate change impacts from the PAGE2002 integrated assessment model used in the Stern report, by Chris Hope and Stephan Alberth, presents additional detail on the PAGE model and the modifications made for this report, along with sensitivity analyses.

Read more about GDAE's work on the Economics of Climate Change

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