Inaction could carry greater price tag than $87B climate plan: city admin

via Calgary Herald by Jason Herring

If we stand by and do nothing, the cost of inaction could ramp up to an average of $7.8 billion a year by the 2080s’

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Reducing citywide emissions to net-zero by 2050 will cost an estimated $87 billion, but the cost of inaction is even greater, a city council committee heard Tuesday.

The community development committee spent Tuesday afternoon discussing the city’s updated climate plan, called “Calgary Climate Strategy — Pathways to 2050.” It’s an update to a climate strategy approved by council in 2018.

The strategy pegs the cost of bringing citywide emissions to net zero over the next 28 years at $87 billion, or about $3.1 billion annually.

But inaction on climate mitigation would carry a greater price tag, City of Calgary climate change and environment manager Dick Ebersohn told committee.

“If we stand by and do nothing, the cost of inaction could ramp up to an average of $7.8 billion a year by the 2080s,” he said.

Ebersohn said the city also estimated the net-zero transition will result in $60 billion to $80 billion in energy savings for Calgarians by 2050.

He added the city will also have to invest in climate risk reduction, with threats of extreme storms, flooding and heat waves.

Coun. Kourtney Penner acknowledged the possibility for some sticker shock from Calgarians, but said it’s important to consider other costs of inaction, like the loss of clean air or clean water.

“They’re staggering numbers, and they’re really hard to wrap your head around, for sure,” said Penner, who chairs the committee. She said the $87 billion wouldn’t come solely from city coffers.

“That is a joint investment between all orders of government, between the private sector and between citizens investing into a net-zero future by 2050.”