By Jessica McDonald
Since the ambitious and controversial Green New Deal debuted last month, Republicans and Democrats have sparred over the cost of the measure — a nonbinding resolution that broadly outlines how the U.S. should address climate change over the next decade.
But sometimes the politicians have erred in their descriptions of the proposal and the costs of climate action and inaction.
Numerous Republicans have touted a $93 trillion price tag for the resolution. President Donald Trump has rounded that up to $100 trillion. But the estimate, which comes from a right-leaning think tank, has important caveats, and experts told us the Green New Deal is too vague to try to estimate its cost.
Sen. Ed Markey, the Democratic sponsor of the resolution, claimed that without any action climate change “will result in 10% GDP loss by 2090,” citing the National Climate Assessment. That number is an upper-end estimate, and two of the researchers who did the original study caution against using it.
We’ll explain the origin of Markey’s 10 percent gross domestic product line, and go over why it’s not the best way to summarize the economic impacts of climate change.
One of the Science paper’s authors, Amir Jina, wrote an entire article in Forbes to explain the research after several news outlets highlighted the 10 percent figure in their coverage of the fourth National Climate Assessment.
Jina, who is an environmental economist at the University of Chicago, explained that the number “mischaracterizes” his study. The number is too high because losses equivalent to 10 percent of GDP are unlikely.
“While it is true that we estimated damages as high as 10% of GDP annually at the end of the century for warming of 15°F above pre-industrial levels, the odds of a temperature change that would drive damages of this magnitude are slim,” he wrote. “In fact, they are less than 1-in-100 by our original calculation.”
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