Climate Change Hurricane Sandy Overflight via US Cost Guard/Flickr/ Some Rights Reserved

Published on January 3rd, 2013 | by Adam Johnston


Delaying Climate Action Is More Costly: Study

January 3rd, 2013 by  

Another day, another study on why delaying action on climate change is not a good thing.

Reuters reported yesterday that a newly published report in Nature finds that an international price on carbon at $20 per ton now would give close to a 60% chance of cutting global warming below 2°C. This would also help to limit the worst effects of global warming, including: rising sea levels, floods, droughts, and severe heat.

“If you delay action by 10, 20 years you significantly reduce the chances of meeting the 2 degree target,” said one of the authors of the report from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis Keywan Riahi in Austria said.

That compares to a $100 per ton carbon price in 2020 to keep the same 60% chance of capping the 2°C or less temperature increase.

Meanwhile, it would be nearly impossible to keep temperatures below 2°C by 2030 regardless what price there would be on carbon.

“The window for effective action on climate change is closing quickly,” mentioned Steve Hatfield-Dodds from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in a separate section in Nature.

The study took into consideration 500 computer models of various scenarios, which were analyzed by experts from other countries, including Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Australia. It also recommended more environmentally sustainable polices to improve attempts to achieve the 2°C limit, as Reuters reports:

“And fighting climate change would be easier with certain new technologies, such as capturing and burying carbon emissions from power plants and factories. In some scenarios, the 2C goal could not be met unless carbon capture was adopted.”

Given Hurricane Sandy, and increasing costs of extreme weather, now would be a good time to act on carbon pricing.

Source: Reuters 
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About the Author

Is currently studying at the School of the Environment Professional Development program in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto. Adam graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications. Adam also writes for Solar Love and also owns his own part time tax preparation business. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst, and is currently sharpening his skills as a renewable energy writer. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or at

  • Marshall, I think how you convince people climate change is a serious problem is when weather that should not normally be happening happens.That gets people thinking.

    People have to see it with their own eyes to believe it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      People in lots of the world are much more aware of climate than are many in the US who spend their lives indoors. Awareness of how the climate is changing is high.

  • Marshall

    I don’t doubt even for a second that humankind could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid catastrophic climate change. The problem right now is, that we have a good portion of the populace that is aware of the problem, and another portion of the populace that is completely oblivious and/or willfully ignorant on the subject. Check out the posts you see from regular people on other websites. All they do is perpetuate discredited myths that have been debunked for the umpteenth time. How the heck do you deal with such a depressing level of misinformation?

    • That’s a good question, a hard one… the only thing I can say is: keep drilling the truth/facts. Sooner or later, the overwhelming majority will get the point.

      Also, speak up with extreme weather hits — this is what really helps people to connect the dots. And discuss the effects global warming is already having today — when people see story after story about the way our world is changing today, some obnoxious denier’s comments won’t hold any sway.

      Thanks for the note — keep up the good work! 😀

    • Bob_Wallace

      Marshall, in most of the world people don’t question climate change. “Deniers” are somewhat unique to the US and a couple other places. I do some traveling in out of the way places in Asia and South America and commonly villagers and farmers know what is happening.

      I was in Nepal a couple of years back when for the first time anyone could remember there was no snow on the mountains around Pokora. People stood in the street and talked about climate change.

      Even in the US a significant majority understand that the climate is changing and that humans are almost certainly the reason it is happening. It is my opinion that “willful deniers” post out of proportion to their numbers. I wouldn’t suggest that counting posts on the web as a way to measure general attitudes.

      Only about 10% of Americans deny that the climate is changing. Another 10% or so attribute it to non-human causes. Of course they have no idea what the cause may be. They seem to believe in magical sine waves.

      There are people who spend their time posting the same junk over and over on different sites. It’s like the anti-wind turbine crowd. A relatively small number of people making a lot of noise.

      How you deal with it, I think, is post facts so that passerbys get a chance to hear the counter argument. And do what you can to help educate people in general.

      I think one of the best things to do is to simply point out that the poster is repeating a disproved myth and give the link to Skeptical Science.

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