As President Obama headed to the Arctic to discuss climate change, just mere weeks after approving Shell Oil’s bid to drill for oil in the fragile environment, a very different group sounded the alarm over the dangers of a warming climate. That group, surprisingly, was Wall Street bankers.
Citibank has released a new report showing that taking action now against the growing threat of climate change would save an astonishing $1.8 trillion by the year 2040. Conversely, the report says that if no action is taken, the economy will lose as much as $44 trillion during that same time period.
As Think Progress points out, the Citibank report takes into account the potential lost revenue from leaving resources in the ground – including 80% of coal reserves, half of the world’s gas reserves, and a third of global oil reserves – and still concludes that the global economy would see a net gain.
This report offers a very stark contrast to the typical talking point that we hear as to why we can’t take action on climate change – that action would simply cost too much.
But this is not the first time that financial leaders have warned about the financial dangers of climate change. Earlier this summer, a group of current and former Wall Street executives and former U.S. Treasury Secretaries warned that a 2 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures could result in property losses in the state of Florida totaling $23 billion by the middle of this century. On top of the economic losses from property being underwater, the Southeast would also begin to see an alarming rise in yearly deaths due to extreme heat, with some estimates putting the yearly death toll as high as 35,000 people a year. Agricultural losses could be as high as 20% of current yield.
If Wall Street understands the threat of climate change, even if only in terms of dollars, then this begs the question as to why they continue to fund climate change denying politicians.
Since 2014, Wall Street banks, real estate firms, and insurance companies – all industries that have expressed enormous concern over the financial threat of climate change – have poured an astonishing $507 million into political campaigns and lobbying activities. 62% of this money went to Republicans.
The reason that Party split is significant is because we have more climate change-denying members of the House and Senate then at any other point in time, and nearly every single one of them are members of the Republican Party. According to an analysis by Think Progress, 53% of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives deny that climate change is real, and 70% of Republicans in the Senate refuse to admit that climate change is real.
If they want to be taken seriously, and if they want their financial concerns addressed by politicians, then Wall Street bankers need to immediately stop the flow of corporate campaign cash that is going to climate change deniers. As long as those people hold seats of power in Washington, D.C., then we will continue to see action stalled year after year.