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McKinsey Pegs the Price Tag of a Livable Climate at $9.2 Trillion a Year

A new analysis estimates the level of investment needed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. It’s a lot, but less than the cost of inaction. 

Spanish Wind Farms amid European Energy Crisis
Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

A new analysis from McKinsey & Co. estimates that the investment, in new infrastructure and systems, needed to meet international climate goals could be $9.2 trillion a year annually through 2050. That’s at least $3.5 trillion more a year than the world is currently laying out for both low-carbon and fossil-fuel infrastructure and changes in how people use land. 

McKinsey analysts wanted a sense of how much investment would be necessary, and what behavioral changes would be required, to slash the impact of greenhouse gas pollution to zero by 2050, in alignment with scientific guidance and the Paris Agreement. Their findings suggest that in return for stable planetary conditions, coal use would be virtually eliminated globally by 2050. Oil and gas production would drop 55% and 70%, respectively, and 200 million new jobs would replace 185 million positions the global economy no longer needed. Power-sector investment could raise electricity prices by a quarter until 2040 and they would remain 20% higher than today through 2050.