Proponents of global warming legislation often dismiss the economist costs of implementing a cap and tax scheme to reduce carbon emissions. They’ll ask, “What’s the cost of not doing anything at all?”

Well, according to the International Energy Agency, the cost of actually doing something will come at a remarkably steep price, $45 trillion just to give a ballpark estimate. That’s right, the IEA’s latest report says $45 trillion worth of new energy, mostly nuclear and wind, will be needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in half by 2050. Meeting the nuclear demand would require 1,400 new plants built, or about 32 per year in the next forty years. Although that number seems high, it is apparent the world is on the verge of a nuclear renaissance. Many countries are expanding their capacity, already building, or planning new build for the future.

Yet, there are a number of action items to facilitate this renaissance, especially in the United States. As The Heritage Foundation’s Research Fellow Jack Spencer writes in his paper, Nuclear Power Needed to Minimize Lieberman-Warner’s Economic Impact, letting the market work, reducing tariffs and barriers to trade, and liberalizing the global nuclear commercial market will significantly enhance nuclear’s emergence domestically.

Carbon restraints will take a huge toll on the global economy as a result of forced investment that could have been invested elsewhere. Even worse, if a country like the United States embarks on this journey unilaterally, they will embrace the costs with little environmental benefit to show for it. Without a broad expansion of nuclear power in the U.S., the economic outcome will be dire indeed.