As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This rings true whether you are considering healthy living choices, vehicle maintenance, or climate change. Climate change is the biggest threat we face, and we haven’t put enough into prevention. In 2010 the United Nations [UN] agreed that we must limit global temperature to 3.6°F over pre-industrial times if we’re going to prevent further catastrophe, including sea level rising and extreme weather patterns. In the last 200 years, we’ve already gained 1.4°F.
Time and time again, though, prevention gets pushed off to a later date. The longer we delay, the chances to hit that 3.6°F mark fade away and the more it costs to do so. “If you delay action by 10, 20 years you significantly reduce the chances of meeting the 2 degree target,” said Keywan Riahi, one of the authors of a report by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.
Based on some 500 computer simulations, the report finds that the longer world governments delay taking action on climate change, the more it will cost to try to implement such changes later. Reducing or recovering carbon dioxide [CO2] emissions, the main greenhouse gas, doesn’t cost all that much now, and will only get worse.
For example, if right this moment we could put a price of $20/ton of CO2 emissions, the fee manufacturers, consumers, and other entities pay for generating it, we might have a 60% chance of hitting the 3.6° goal. Wait until 2020 and it could cost $100/ton and still have a 60% chance at the goal. Wait until 2030 and all bets are off, no price high enough on CO2 emissions, and no chance at all keeping global temperatures below 3.6°F over pre-industrial times..