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NEW YORK: The Institute for Policy Integrity (IPI) recently invited 2,169 Ph.D. economists to take a 15-question online survey focused on climate change risks, economic damage estimates and emissions abatement.

Of the 738 that replied, 74 percent say “immediate and drastic action is necessary” and less than one percent believe that climate change is “not a serious problem.”

Respondents project economic damages from climate change will reach US$1.7 trillion per year by 2025 and roughly US$30 trillion per year (5.0 percent of projected GDP) by 2075 if the current warming trend continues.

Their damage estimates rise to US$140 trillion annually at a 5°C increase and US$730 trillion at a 7°C increase.

The vast majority (89 percent) thinks climate change will exacerbate income inequality between high- income and low-income countries and approximately 70 percent believe the same will happen within most countries.

The economists predict rapid expansion of clean energy technologies, estimating that more than 50 percent of the global energy mix will consist of zero-emission technologies by 2050. The current share is roughly 10 percent.

Respondents overwhelmingly agree that the benefits of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 will likely outweigh the costs—66 percent view this as likely or very likely and only 12 percent disagree.

Compared to its last survey in 2015, the IPI says a significantly larger share of respondents now believe that drastic action is needed and there is a clear consensus that ambitious emissions reductions are likely to cost less than the expected damages from climate change.

Costs are often cited as a reason to delay or avoid strong action on climate change. The IPI says its latest evidence is on the side of rapid action.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest-ever expert survey on the economics of climate change. Policymakers should heed these findings,” declared report authors Peter Howard Ph.D., IPI Economics director at the New York University School of Law and Derek Sylvan MPA, its Strategy director.
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