The Economics of 350: The Benefits and Costs of Climate Stabilization

Report commissioned by the E3 Network

Author(s): Ackerman, F. ; Stanton, E.A. ; DeCanio, S.J.; Goodstein, E.; Howarth, R.B.; Norgaard, R.B.; Norman, C.S; Sheeran, K.A.
Year: 2009

This report, issued by America's largest network of independent climate economists, explores the costs and benefits of rapidly curbing world carbon emissions to meet the widely recommended target of 350 parts per million and finds that the more aggressive world leaders are in curbing emissions, the greater the economic benefits will be.

The two lead authors, SEI researchers Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton, co-authored the report with researchers from universities and think tanks across the country. The report argues that a worldwide effort to lower atmospheric carbon concentrations to 350 parts per million of CO2 is affordable, and it can create more new jobs, spur more innovation, and protect businesses, governments and households from the damages caused by the rapid heating of the earth.

Ackerman and Stanton estimate that the cost of reaching the 350ppm target would be roughly 1 to 3 percent of world gross domestic product. However, the financial, human and environmental cost of not stabilizing emissions at that level over the next 200 years would likely be much greater.

Download the report (PDF)

"The reason people buy fire insurance is not because they are certain that their house will burn down; rather, it is because they cannot be certain that it won't. A carbon target of 350ppm buys us insurance against catastrophic climate change."
&mdash Frank Ackerman, lead author

Related articles:

"We Can Afford to Save the Planet," The Washington Post opinion article by Eban Goodstein, Frank Ackerman and Kristen Sheeran, Oct. 23, 2009 (download a PDF).
"The Economic Case for Slashing Carbon Emissions," Yale Environment 360, a summary of the report for lay audiences, by Frank Ackerman, Oct. 20, 2009.
"Can We Still Afford to Save the Planet? Yes: The Economics of 350," Grist article by Eban Goodstein, Frank Ackerman and Kristen Sheeran, Oct. 6, 2009.

Selected media coverage:

"New Report Details Costs of Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions," The Washington Post, Oct. 6, 2009.
"Climate Costs: Can The World Really Afford to Roll Back Carbon Emissions?" The Wall Street Journal Environmental Capital blog, Oct. 6, 2009.
"8 Leading Economists Consider 350ppm Achievable,", Oct. 6, 2009.
"Economists say heading off climate disaster now would be affordable," KABC TV Los Angeles Green Right Now, Oct. 6, 2009.
"Economists say deep cuts to greenhouse gas won't mean deep cuts to economy," Southern California Public Radio, Oct. 5, 2009.
"New report urges quick, aggressive action to stem carbon emissions," (The Oregonian online), Oct. 5, 2009.
"The Economics of Climate Stabilization," The New York Times Green blog, Oct. 2, 2009.

Frank Ackerman presented the report to a large audience at the Society for Environmental Journalists annual meeting in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 9, 2009. Download his presentation (PDF)

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