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Washington (AFP) – Delaying efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. $150 billion per year, the White House warned Tuesday in a report on the economic consequences of inaction on climate change.

“Although delaying action can reduce costs in the short run, on net, delaying action to limit the effects of climate change is costly,” the report said.

“A delay that results in warming of 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, instead of 2 degrees, could increase economic damages by approximately 0.9 percent of global output,” the report said.

That figure represents approximately $150 billion in terms of the estimated 2014 U.S. GDP.

“These costs are not one-time, but are rather incurred year after year because of the permanent damage caused by increased climate change resulting from the delay,” the report said.

The United States was 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer during the last decade than the 1901-1960 average.

It was also the warmest ten-year period on record both in the United States and worldwide, the report added.

President Barack Obama, who made the battle against climate change a core promise of his 2008 election campaign, has faced opposition from lawmakers.

In early June he announced a major initiative that aims to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

Climate change is a hot-button issue in American politics.

Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, are against any new law touching on it, with some even disputing the existence of global warming. Others cast doubt on whether humans are to blame for the phenomenon.

In 2009, Obama pledged to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

AFP Photo/Patrick Stollarz

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