EPA Report Puts a Staggering Price Tag on Climate Inaction – —By Luke Whelan| Mon Jun. 22, 2015 6:59 PM EDT


According to a report released Monday by the Obama administration, doing nothing to rein in greenhouse gas emissions would cost the United States billions of dollars and thousands lives.

The findings come as part of an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to quantify the human and economic benefits of cutting emissions in an effort to reduce global warming. The report is the latest piece of President Obama’s recent climate push and provides a tool that he hopes to use in negotiations at the UN climate talks in Paris later this year.

The report, which was peer-reviewed, estimates that if nothing is done to curb global warming, by 2100, the US will see an additional 12,000 annual deaths related to extreme temperatures in the 49 cities analyzed for the report. In addition, the report projects an increase of 57,000 premature deaths related to poor air quality, annually. The economic costs would be enormous, as well. By 2100, climate inaction will result in:

  • $4.2-$7.4 billion in additional road maintenance costs each year.
  • $3.1 billion annually in damages to coastal regions due to sea level rise and storm surges.
  • $6.6-$11 billion annually in agricultural damages.
  • A loss of 230,000-360,000 acres of cold water fish habitat.
  • A loss of 34 percent of the US oyster supply and 29 percent of the clam supply.
  • $110 billion annually in lost labor due to unsuitable working conditions.

The EPA also used a number of charts to illustrate the difference between taking action to stop (or “mitigate”) climate change and continuing with business as usual (which the charts refer to as the “reference” case.)

For example, if we don’t mitigate climate change, temperatures will continue to skyrocket:

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Workers must lead transition to green economy, unions say at climate talks – by Renee Lewis December 9, 2014 1:10PM ET

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As global climate negotiators meet in Lima, Peru, for the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) — a prelude to world climate talks in Paris next year — international union representatives say labor needs a stronger voice in planning the transition away from fossil fuels.

If that changeover is left to corporations and market forces alone, workers will be exposed and already-vulnerable communities will suffer most, union leaders told Al Jazeera.

“Labor should not just be at the table,” Bruce Hamilton, vice president of the U.S.-based Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), said from Lima. “Labor should be planning the transition.”

Trade unions send delegations to every COP, but they do not participate in negotiations. That makes it difficult to ensure workers are not left out of the energy industry’s “huge transformation,” Anabella Rosemberg, a sustainable development adviser for the International Trade Union, said from Lima.

“We need stronger social protections so that people who might be in sectors that are under stress can be accommodated to the clean sector,” Rosemberg said, adding that historically workers have paid a heavy price during major economic transformations.

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