Paul Rogers in an article on Open Democracy, writes:

It is also significant that the term 'hothouse earth' has caught on, and that the idea of runaway climate disruption is covered in the media in some depth - even by newspapers that have long been impregnable citadels of climate denial

The weekly economist has for many years given ample space to climate sceptics, but recently it's coverage has changed markedly. The cover story of its latest is about the failure to tackle climate change.

Is it possible to quantify and cost the ideological obstruction on tackling climate change given that the earlier climate change is tackled the more effective it would be?

One example of a global effort to limit environmental damage was the Montreal protocol on limiting substances that damage the ozone layer that came into force in 1987 with climate projections showing that ozone layer will return to 1980 levels around 2050-70. Of course, the CFC industry is valued in the billions whereas the fossil fuel industry is valued in the trillions so there is likely to be a much larger push-back from the industry. It's this that I want to have numbers on.

In view of the comment below in the top rated answer, I'd suggest that such an exercise would useful in informing class action suits in the future in the same way that we have had class action suits against big tobacco firms. (In the latter, they are polluting peoples lungs and in the former, the planet lungs).


Yes, it is possible to cost it. The range of costs could be estimated by taking the range of estimates of the marginal social cost of carbon (in €/tCO2e), and the range of estimates of the net excess amount of greenhouse gases [GHG] released due to delay (in tCO2e), and multiplying these together.

One starting point would be to ask how long it would have taken to get to zero net GHG if there had been international agreement in 1989, at the start of the IPCC, to put the world on track to tackle climate change (a deal that was killed by the USA, USSR, UK, Japan at the time), and what the total net emissions would have been on that trajectory, versus how they'll be if we achieve a 1.5°C or 2°C trajectory now.

I suspect no one's done it because it's not obvious what the value of the exercise would be: in the absence of a time machine, it doesn't really inform any decisions now.

  • $\begingroup$ I work in this area on the policy side - one way that I am communicating the cost of delay is by pointing out how annual percent GHG reductions, and optimal carbon price, have increased since some benchmark year. For example, since ~2010 inaction has caused the % reduction required to double from about -3.5%/year to about -7%/year, while delays since 2006 have caused the optimal carbon price to increase roughly seven-fold. $\endgroup$ – heh Dec 2 '19 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ I'd suggest that it would inform class action suits in the future in the same way that we have had class action suits against big tobacco firms. (In the latter, they are polluting peoples lungs and in the former, the planet lungs). $\endgroup$ – Mozibur Ullah Dec 3 '19 at 18:02

Is it possible to quantify & cost the ideological obstruction to climate change?


It is possible to quantify & cost of climate change.

It is one of the fastest-growing business verticals - modeling, predicting, simulating. Main customers are insurance firms.

I've recently read in Economist about this company: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Twenty_Seven

A random article from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_global_warming


It is possible to quantify & cost the ideological obstruction of climate change.

Check this movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Inconvenient_Sequel:_Truth_to_Power

It explained very well the ideological obstruction - disguising climate movement as socialist, attacking free markets and prosperity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americans_for_Prosperity#Energy_and_environment - it's intense, check them out!


You cant change the climate/weather any more than you can stop the tides.

All money spent 'fighting' climate change is wasted so we can say definitively that the value/cost of obstructing this nonsense is good [and >0 as long as not spending more than the greenies are wasting] as not fighting it would result in even greater waste of resources.

  • $\begingroup$ I just read that Scottish Power has divested itself of all its fossil fuel plants and has moved to a completely renewable energy strategy. They also say that off-shore wind power off the coast the UK has the potential to power most of Europe...I think renewables are here to stay. They certainly beat the safety profile of nuclear. $\endgroup$ – Mozibur Ullah Dec 3 '19 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ It certainly beats the profile of North sea oil which was a time-limited resource anyway... $\endgroup$ – Mozibur Ullah Dec 3 '19 at 7:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Jedidiah, welcome to Economics.SE. I'm downvoting this answer because I disagree that fighting climate change is a waste, and also because there is little grammatical sense in the second paragraph (as, we require formal prose). $\endgroup$ – ahorn Dec 5 '19 at 13:45

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