The U.S. stands to gain up to $10 trillion by 2050 if other countries take action against climate change, a new report finds.
The economic analysis, which was released Thursday by the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, argues that this financial benefit is reason enough for the U.S. to take the lead on securing ambitious carbon reduction pledges from countries like China and India.
The U.S., the study explains, is "particularly vulnerable to effects that will spillover from other regions of the world" because it is the world's largest economy and a military superpower with widespread trade deals and investments across the globe.
Those gains were calculated by examining the "social cost of carbon," or SCC, which the study's authors say includes "lost agricultural and labor productivity, trade and energy supply disruptions, negative public health consequences, ocean acidification, extreme weather events, flooding, wildfires, increased pests and pathogens, water shortages, migration, regional conflicts, and loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, among others."
Without significant action from other countries, the U.S. could suffer from disruption to global financial markets, such as higher prices on goods when nations we import from experience climate change-linked disasters, or lower demand for U.S. goods when climate-affected countries can no longer afford them.
Climate-related disaster in nearby countries could also trigger an expensive mass migration to the U.S., the researchers note. For example, a 10 percent decline in Mexico's crop yields could spark 2 percent of its entire population to emigrate to other regions, largely to the U.S. Such mass emigrations, the researchers warn, could also bring infectious disease.
Additionally, climate change will be costly to U.S. national security, the authors write. Military operations abroad are threatened by natural disaster and the U.S. will be expected to respond to climate-driven humanitarian crises.
"Should the United States fail to mitigate its emissions, it is our country that risks looking like a free-rider and undermining an international climate agreement," the researchers conclude. "With recent, ambitious pledges from China and India, trillions of dollars in direct benefits to the United States from foreign efforts are on the line at the U.N. meeting in December 2015. ... With our economy, public health, environment, and national security at stake, the United States simply cannot afford not to act."
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