While the Paris Agreement seeks to limit the global temperature increase to less than 1.5°C, it is becoming increasingly clear that the world is likely to miss the mark, based on recent climate data. While it’s not too late to stave off the worst impacts of climate change, doing nothing will come at an extraordinarily high price, according to the Global Turning Point Report, released by the new Deloitte Center for Sustainable Progress (DSCP) at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Should global warming reach or exceed 3°C by 2070, the world could face $178 trillion in global economic losses compared to a baseline that does not account for climate change. But the consequences will be far worse than simply economic. Some of the world’s most vulnerable populations will face widespread loss of life, food and water shortages, societal destabilization, and dramatically decreased health and wellbeing, should humanity continue to refuse to make the difficult changes needed to stave off the worst.
"The time for debate is over. We need swift, bold, and widespread action now – across all sectors," Deloitte Global Chief Executive Officer Punit Renjen said. "Will this require a significant investment from the global business community, from governments, from the non-profit sector? Yes. But inaction is a far costlier choice … What we have before us is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-orient the global economy and create more sustainable, resilient, and equitable long-term growth. In my mind the question is not why we should make this investment, it's how can we not?"
The authors of the report say that all hope is not lost, however. Through rapid and decisive action coordinated amongst global partners, the world could still achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. While the costly upfront investment in decarbonization technology, combined with the damage already done, will result in temporarily lowered economic activity, an eventual turning point could be reached where the benefits will start to far outweigh the costs. The report predicts that acting now on climate transformation could result in a boost to global GDP of up to 3.8% in 2070.
With the world already facing more extreme weather events, along with rising sea levels and fresh water shortages even in developed nations, heavy investment in decarbonization now will pay off for future generations, which will otherwise be left to face the dire future we are leaving for them.