Climate warming in the Arctic will cost the global economy billions of dollars in 2010 alone, according to a study by the U.S.-based Pew Environment Group released Friday.
The environmental advocacy organization held a news conference in Iqaluit — where G7 finance ministers and central bank governors are meeting to discuss global economic reform — to emphasize its view that protection of the environment should also be on the agenda.
The study estimated that melting sea ice and permafrost as well as dwindling snow cover would cost the world between $61 billion and $370 billion US in 2010.
The authors predict that will rise to at least $2.4 trillion by the year 2050.
The study is the first to put an estimated dollar value on global warming resulting from the Arctic's declining ability to act as "air conditioner" of the planet.
It arrived at its number by estimating how much the loss of snow, ice and permafrost would have on warming, expressing that in equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide and multiplying that increase by what it called the "social cost of carbon." Those include estimates of the cost of climate change on agriculture, energy production, water availability, sea level rise, and flooding.
One of the report's authors, economist Eban Goldstein of Bard College in New York, said the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world.
He said the combination of melting ice, increased sunlight absorption by darker barren ground and the release of methane as the permafrost thaws will this year warm the Earth the equivalent of 40 per cent of total U.S. industrial emissions.