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Up to $3 per day - what you spend in taxes and more to fight climate change

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The world spends $1 billion per day to fight global warming, but reports say that it's still not enough to fight the looming threat of climate change.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Global spending on climate change is about $1 billion per day or $359 billion per year. This is five billion less than we earthlings spent in 2012, and half of the $700 billion the World Economic Forum says we need to spend to stop the adverse effects of climate change.

The International Energy Agency is calling for $5 trillion is spending to develop clean energy projects through 2020. The IEA says that the vast majority of funds are still spent on fossil fuel development which contributes to climate change by dumping massive quantities of greenhouse gasses and smog into the atmosphere.

None of this is good. Not global climate change, which is ongoing, or the amount of money requested to combat the problem. The pollution we're producing isn't very good either. In some cities, such as several in China, smog is so terrible that people have trouble seeing and most literally go about their public business wearing masks.

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The price tag for fighting climate change includes spending on renewable energy projects which are thought to be required to displace fossil fuel industries which contribute the greatest share of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

It's hard not to feel fleeced. The price tag is amazing by any measure. Of course, it can be argued that the price of doing nothing is even greater. However, renewable projects still consume vast amounts of energy to build, damage the environment in unique ways and aren't particularly cost effective. The added funds would address this criticism.

Then again, just about anything is possible with $5 trillion in the bank.

The good news is that the majority of the climate change money isn't coming out of your taxes. Just over a third of the money used to combat climate change comes from the public sector. Most of the money is raised by private investment.

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Still, at just a third, the world spends hundreds of millions of dollars per day on climate change. If Americans paid the majority of those funds, then it would roughly cost each taxpayer anywhere from one to three dollars per day in taxes to support these projects, which gives you a sense of how epic the scale of the initiative is.

You also pay more for your energy as well as higher food costs and more. Even the McDonald's dollar menu has gone away, victim of climate change according to the company.

Also troubling in the report is how little money is spent on actual adaptation to global climate change, which is inevitable at this point. Only about 6 percent of the funds were spent on adaptation measures.

Yet, adaptation is probably the best strategy with the greatest return on investment in terms of economic benefit and human lives saved. As some parts of the world become dry and barren, other parts are greening and rainfall is increasing. Some areas will see yet more rainfall and others much less. In all cases, adaptations will need to be made. In some cases, regions will be abandoned and others will be inhabited over the next century or so.

Meanwhile, investments in private industry serve to enrich investors and may not yield returns to the public sector. If public money is to be paid out on the same scale as the status quo, or is doubled as per request, it might be worthwhile to see more of it diverted to adaptation as opposed to risky ventures. We should leave that to the free market and private sector to worry about.

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