People, primarily skeptics, often want to know what is the business case for taking action on climate change. Typically, all they can see is the prospect of energy prices going up since, they imagine, energy companies will be forced to make expensive modifications or pay taxes or credits that will raise the price of everything else while providing nothing additional in return. My favorite answer to the question is this one: What is the business case for not taking action? But recently I discovered another set of numbers that justify taking action, which leads me to believe there are probably even more waiting to be discovered.
Consider this: A cost-benefit study conducted by a team of MIT researchers and published in the journal Nature Climate Change looked at three different climate intervention scenarios, taking into account the health care cost savings. What they saw was that in one scenario, the health care cost savings achieved were actually ten times greater than the cost of implementing the scenario. In fact, in two of the three scenarios, the savings achieved by reducing the need for health care, avoided hospital visits, and decreased incidence of pollution-related illnesses more than covered the cost of the program.
The three scenarios selected were a clean energy standard, a policy aimed specifically at emissions from transportation, and a cap and trade program. What the researchers found was the following:
|Scenario||Cost||Health Care Savings|
|Clean Energy Standard||$208 billion||$247 billion|
|Transportation Emissions||~$1000 billion||$260 billion|
|Cap and Trade||$14 billion||$147 billion|