Report: Practical Solutions to Global Warming May Offer Major Economic Opportunity for U.S.

Mitigating global warming may provide a major opportunity for investment and job growth in the United States, but any such potential is endangered if the public and policy makers remain mired in either panic or a sense of resignation about climate change, according to a new report published by Dr. Lloyd Jeff Dumas, professor of economics and public policy at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

The Dumas report, "Seeds of Opportunity -- Climate Change: Between Complacency and Panic" (announced on June 1), was prepared for the nonprofit, nonpartisan Civil Society Institute. The document outlines the potential economic opportunities associated with mitigating global warming, with a focus on five "sensible, robust and flexible policy approaches."

"It has been said that within every problem lie the seeds of opportunity," the report states. "Global warming is no exception to that rule.

"Global warming threatens us with huge economic dislocations, more powerful storms, diseases, catastrophic droughts, dwindling food supplies, unprecedented floods and vanishing coastal areas," according to the report. "Nonetheless, it does not make sense to look at global warming only as a risk ... it also presents an opportunity for private sector firms and government to find cost-effective ways to mitigate the damage likely to be caused by climate change. There is the potential for earning substantial profits and creating large numbers of productive jobs by focusing on climate change solutions."

In the report, Dumas notes that substantial attention has been paid to the potentially severe economic downside of global warning, but that the opportunities presented by the threat have received less attention and study to date.

"There is already evidence that there are major opportunities for business profits and job creation in meeting the rising demand for solutions to global warning," the report states. "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that reducing equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by about 15 percent of current levels could be achieved by 2010 and by 30 percent by 2020 by taking measures that would save enough energy to actually produce net economic benefits, rather than costs. For example, the United Nations projects that global sales in the market for all forms of renewable energy will reach $234 billion to $625 billion by 2010, and as much as $1.9 trillion by 2020.

"The market in the United States alone is expected to grow 34 percent by 2020. Using renewable energy to meet just 20 percent of U.S. electricity demand would by itself create nearly a quarter of a million jobs in this country by 2020," the report states.

Dumas outlines possible solutions "which can be used individually or in combination to effectively address the problem of global warming in ways that hold costs down and/or increase the return on our investment," including increased use and further development of renewable, ecologically benign energy sources.

"When it comes to global warming, there is reason to be optimistic," according to the report. "We certainly cannot afford to be complacent, but there is no need to panic. We still have the time to take a measured approach, to roll up our sleeves and build the political will to take sensible, pragmatic actions that will make global warming a problem of the past, rather than a threat to our future."

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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