Today's Financial Times features professor Richard
Tol's take on what a new UN report says about how much climate
change could cost the world. But examining the report's summary
reveals a list of reasons why the IPCC believes the costs are
likely to be a lot higher.
With the launch of the latest IPCC report, a fair
amount of attention has focused on what it says about how much
climate change could cost in terms of GDP as temperatures rise.
In part, that's because a lead author of the economics
chapter became quite vocal in
his opinion that the IPCC's Summary for Policymakers (SPM)
is too "alarmist".
In interviews for BBC and
Sky News yesterday, Richard Tol - an economics professor at Sussex
University - argued the SPM takes too much of a "four horseman of
the apocalypse" tone.
Today, Tol has an
opinion piece in the Financial Times, headlined "Bogus
prophecies of doom will not fix the climate".
Tol's take is that while climate change requires a
response, reducing emissions has been over-prioritised. To make his
case, he refers to a figure from the IPCC report for the cost of
two degrees warming:
"According to Monday's report
by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a further
warming of two degrees could cause losses equivalent to 0.2 to two
per cent of world gross domestic product."
In other words, Tol says,
"[H]alf a century of climate
change is about as bad as losing one year of economic growth."