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The Cost of Climate Change

Congress to spar on accounting for carbon's economic impact

Corporations are beginning to wrestle with the cost of climate change on their enterprises, and the issue is being taken up in Congress.

One recent study put a price on it, in terms of its head on global financial assets.

Question mark

Your estimate? 

a. $170 billion

b. $1 trillion

c. $1.7 trillion

The answer is “c” according to a study cited by The New York Times.

Or, $229.73 for each man, woman and child on earth.

Why is the issue now heating up?

“Some companies, including Exxon Mobil, say the economics of climate change are too hard to predict for them to give investors hard numbers about the business impact of global warming,” the Times reported.

“Federal regulators may disagree and are considering requiring Exxon to do just that for the value of its oil reserves.

“Now a long-shot legislative effort by a Florida congressman to prevent such a move by the federal government has become an unexpected flash point in the battle over disclosing climate-related risks — with potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in the balance.”

The cost?

“Even under a plan that would limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius — a goal agreed to as part of the Paris deal — climate change could wipe out $1.7 trillion of global financial assets, according to a peer-reviewed study published earlier this year in the journal Nature,” the Times reported.


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