Costing the Earth

The Indian government is finding out something that most of us have known for a long time: that measures aimed at dealing with global warming are expensive. This has led a senior official to question the validity of Sir Nicholas Stern’s conclusion that global warming can be successfully mitigated at a cost of a mere 1 percent of global GDP:

Mauskar said, “In 2000-01, India was spending 0.63% of its GDP on climate change adaptation and mitigation which has now risen to 2.17%. So we can say that Nicholas Stern’s argument (that climate change action does not hurt economy much) is perhaps not true.”

Observers should note that the cost relates purely to adaptation and resiliency projects, such as poverty alleviation, which will enable poor Indians to better cope with any environmental changes. This cost does not include the far more onerous burden of emissions caps, carbon taxes, renewable fuels mandates, or all of the other smorgasborg of policies designed to reduce emissions. Under the Kyoto Protocol, India and other developing nations do not face binding emissions reduction targets.

This is another indication of why leading climate economists such as Yale’s William Nordhaus find that the drastic policies proposed by Sir Nicholas Stern would carry a net cost of one-and-a-half times as much as global warming.