Cold Comfort

Climate Deal to Cost Trillions

Fighting climate change is going to be expensive. If the Copenhagen negotiations succeed, the world will have to profoundly shift its energy production, change where and how people live, transform the agriculture and forestry industries, and create complex pollution-credit markets at a combined cost of trillions of dollars—a large number, but a small fraction of the total world economic output—over the next few decades. Poorer nations are demanding that richer ones make deeper emissions cuts and contribute funds to help poor countries cope. The New York Times reports that delegates to the climate-change summit are expected to set policies that will cost more than $10 trillion in additional investment from 2010 to 2030, but that new jobs, improved lives, secure energy supplies and reduced danger of climate catastrophe will offset those costs. The global head of Deutsche Bank Asset Management put it bluntly: "The figures people tend to cite don't take into account conservation and efficiency measures that are easily available. And they don't look at the cost of inaction, which is the extinction of the human race." In an admitted bid to influence negotiations at the summit, the World Meteorological Organization released data showing that this decade is the warmest on record, and this year is likely to be the fifth warmest.