Top U.S. Scientists and Economists Call For Swift, Deep Cuts In Global Warming Pollution: More than 1,700 Say Early Reductions Can Benefit Economy
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
Posted Date: May 29, 2008
More than 1,700 of the nation's most
prominent scientists and economists today released a joint statement
calling on policymakers to require immediate, deep reductions in
heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming. Issued just days
before the Senate begins debate on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill,
the statement marks the first time leading U.S. scientists and
economists have joined together to make such an appeal.
The statement stresses that implementing policies to achieve swift
and substantial cuts is both economically sound and necessary to limit
the worst consequences of climate change.
"There is a strong consensus that we must do something about
reducing the emissions that cause global warming," said James McCarthy,
president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
and one of the statement's authors. "The debate right now is about how
much we need to cut. The fact that so many scientists and economists
have spoken out and signed this letter should give policymakers the
confidence that we can avert serious adverse climate impacts."
Besides McCarthy, the statement authors include Mario Molina, a
Nobel Prize winner in chemistry; Peter Frumhoff, director of science
and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and an
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lead author; Stephen
Schneider, a Stanford University climatologist and a member of the
National Academy of Sciences (NAS); and Geoff Heal, an economist at
Columbia University's Business School. The signatories, compiled by
UCS, include six Nobel Prize winners in science or economics, 31 NAS
members, and more than 100 IPCC authors and editors, who all shared the
2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
According to the statement, "the strength of the science on climate
change" compelled the signers to warn policymakers of climate change's
growing risks, including "sea level rise, heat waves, droughts,
wildfires, snowmelt, floods and disease, as well as increased plant and
animal species extinctions."
The statement notes that acting quickly to cut global warming
pollution would be the most cost-effective way to limit climate change.
If the United States delays taking action, future cuts would have to
more drastic and would be much more expensive. Those costs would come
in addition to the increased cost of adapting to more climate change.
Conversely, the statement says smart reduction strategies would allow
the economy to grow, generate new domestic jobs, protect public health,
and strengthen energy security.
The statement concludes that the United States should reduce global
warming pollution "on the order of 80 percent below 2000 levels by
2050" and that the first step should be reductions of 15 to 20 percent
below 2000 levels by 2020. The statement calls on the United States to
set an example and bring nations together to meet the climate challenge.
Columbia University economist Heal said the cost of inaction far
outweighs the cost of addressing climate change. The costs of cutting
emissions to safe levels would be between 1 and 2 percent of gross
domestic product (GDP), he said, while the costs of allowing climate
change to proceed unabated would be on the order of 10 to 20 percent of
Heal sees the challenge of reducing global warming emissions as an
economic opportunity. "Limiting global warming emissions is a great
investment," he said. "When you compare the cost of acting to the cost
of not acting, cutting emissions would give the world a return of 10 to
1. That's attractive even to a venture capitalist."
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