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Environmental Economics 101 – Mitigation or Climate Change Prevention?

I’ve been putting of writing about environmental economics for some time, simply because the subject is somewhat complicated, and I haven’t yet found a way to make it tangible. But last night, a friend of mine send my an article, that gave me an idea for a post about green-econ. Is so simple, even my dead dog could understand it.

It will only revolve around one question:

Which is cheaper, Mitigation or Climate Change Prevention?

Climate mitigation is in short, adapting to the consequences of climate change.

Examples of this include; storm drains, damns, water protection, drought prevention and so on.

Climate change prevention is in short, preventing climate change, either by cutting the use of fossil fuels, which is most commonly discussed, or by extracting CO2 and other green house gasses from the atmosphere. The lather is often regarded as unfit for large-scale project, and an unrealistic technology.

So, mitigation fights the consequences of climate change and climate change prevention fights the actual climate change, eliminating the need for mitigation.

 

The above seems like a no brainer. Fight the problem at the root, right?

 

Unfortunately, most policymakers don’t see it that way. The here and now cost of climate change prevention, is far greater than mitigation, and their budgets don’t stretch 20, 50, or 100 years into the future.

 

I could find an endless list of links of policy makers stating, that it would be far cheaper to spend money on mitigation, than prevention. Instead, I’m going to give you an example, of why they are wrong.

 

These days the municipality of Copenhagen are implementing the most ambitious climate mitigation plan, even seen in our nation. Massive storm drains and runoff patches are being build, green areas planted, and sewage pipes expanded to cope with the added pressure.

 

The plan is even so ambitious, the solutions are being sold to New York.

The above is no doubt impressive, but as we already established, you have to attack the problem at the root.

 

A 2 degree increase in global mean temperature will still result in massive flooding. In my home city of Copenhagen, this means 225.000 people will loose their homes – about half the current population of the City. ScienceNordic made this video about the effects of just a 2 degree temperature rise, will have in Denmark’s capital:

All the storm drains in the world, would not prevent a flooding of this magnitude. The price of relocating the 225.000 people alone exceeds the price of mitigation. Then you have to add lost businesses and income, the cost of social benefits to cover unemployment and decease, the need for new infrastructure…. The list goes on and on.

 

I am not going to find loads of spreadsheet, and examples and use them to convince you, that preventing climate change, is a better investment than climate mitigation. Many, many others have done that.

I am just going to remind you, why it is we have to act. COP21 is happening right this moment. You can still write you local politician, or send a tweet at them, urging them to find a binding agreement in Paris.

It will cost you only 5 minutes of your time, but it might prevent 627 million world citizens from loosing their homes.