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White House Says Delayed Action On Climate Change Could Cost Billions

In a report issued Tuesday, the White House warned that the cost of inaction when it comes to climate change outweighs the cost of implementing more-stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Here's how Time boils down the White House's argument:

"A new report estimates the cost of mitigating the effects of climate change could rise by as much as 40% if action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is delayed 10 years — immediately outweighing any potential savings of a delay.

"The White House's Council of Economic Advisers, U.S. President Barack Obama's source for advice on economic policy, compared over 100 actions on climate change laid out in 16 studies to extract the average cost of delayed efforts. Released Tuesday, the findings suggests policymakers should immediately confront carbon emissions as a form of 'climate insurance.'

" 'Events such as the rapid melting of ice sheets and the consequent increase of global sea levels, or temperature increases on the higher end of the range of scientific uncertainty, could pose such severe economic consequences as reasonably to be thought of as climate catastrophes,' the report reads. 'Confronting the possibility of climate catastrophes means taking prudent steps now to reduce the future chances of the most severe consequences of climate change.' "

The Washington Post adds that this report comes just as the White House is "struggling to incorporate the costs associated with global warming into its energy decisions."

The newspaper says that:

"Environmental groups have been pressing the administration, in court as well as through public advocacy efforts, to factor in the environmental impact of increased carbon dioxide emissions when it issues coal, oil or natural gas leases on federal lands.

"The administration, which is kicking off two days of public hearings in four cities this week on its proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, has been emphasizing the costs of inaction in recent weeks. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters Monday in a conference call that the agency had already received more than 300,000 comments on the draft rule."

Politico notes that Republicans, some moderate Democrats and industry groups oppose the new proposal from the Obama administration because they said it "will damage the economy and kill thousands of jobs."

As we reported, earlier this summer the EPA unveiled proposed federal regulations that aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

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