The Pros And Mostly Cons Of CO2 Emissions

The Pros And Mostly Cons Of CO2 Emissions

What, quantitatively, is the social cost of carbon dioxide—the economic damage caused by a 1-ton increase in emissions or the benefits of a 1-ton decrease?

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel power plants, motor vehicles, and other human sources are the primary driver of global climate change, which threatens people and ecosystems around the world.

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine aims to ensure that estimates of the social cost of carbon dioxide used by the US government continue to reflect state-of-the-art science and evidence.

Committee member Robert E. Kopp, an associate professor in the department of earth and planetary sciences at Rutgers University, and associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, discusses the topic.

Q: What is the social cost of carbon dioxide?

A: It’s an economic measure of the damage to human welfare from each ton of carbon dioxide we emit.

When you emit a ton of carbon dioxide, you increase the Earth’s average temperature by a tiny fraction of a degree for many centuries to come. That temperature increase has numerous impacts—mostly negative, but some positive—on people and ecosystems.

For example, it slightly increases the probability that people will die from heat-related causes and the probability of crop failure in warm regions, and it also slightly decreases the probability that people will die from cold-related causes.

Many processes besides mortality and crop growth are also temperature-sensitive, and turning up the global thermostat a tiny bit like we do when we emit an extra ton of carbon dioxide causes many small impacts to them. These small impacts affect human welfare, and it’s these welfare effects that the social cost of carbon dioxide attempts to estimate.

Q: How is the social cost of carbon dioxide used?

A: When the US government estimates the costs and benefits of proposed regulations, it uses the social cost of carbon dioxide to translate reductions of carbon dioxide emissions into monetary benefits that can be compared with the costs and non-climate benefits of implementing the regulations.

Currently, the US government’s central estimate of the social cost of carbon dioxide is about $40 per ton. That corresponds to about 30 cents per gallon of gasoline burned or, in New Jersey, to about 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour on the electric bill.

Q: What does the new National Academies report assess?

A: The report describes steps the US government can take, both in the near term and over the longer term, to ensure that the social cost of carbon dioxide estimates represent the best science available over time. It lays out a framework focused on the scientific basis, transparency, and uncertainty quantification of the analysis.

It describes a modular approach for undertaking the four key steps of the social cost of carbon dioxide estimation: the projection of future socioeconomics and emissions, the translation of emissions into climate change, the translation of climate change into damages to human welfare, and the discounting of damages over time.

Q: Why is benefit-cost analysis of climate change useful?

A: Currently, we humans emit about 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year, and every ton of carbon dioxide we emit increases average global temperature. The scientific community’s best assessment at the moment is that every trillion tons we emit leads to an increase of about 0.2 to 0.7 degrees Celsius (0.4 to 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

To stop additional global warming requires bringing net emissions to zero. That’s why the Paris climate change agreement, reached in December 2015, set a goal of doing so in the second half of this century.

A central economic question is how fast we can achieve net-zero emissions without the costs of the shift outweighing the benefits. That’s one of the reasons why benefit-cost analysis is useful. Theoretically, you could stop additional global warming by bringing global emissions to zero this year, but making the transition that quickly would be extraordinarily costly.

When we’re talking about climate policies, we’re always talking about the trade-offs between the damage we’re doing by emitting carbon dioxide and the costs (and non-climate benefits) of transitioning to a clean energy economy. Benefit-cost analysis helps navigate these trade-offs.

Q: How do you think the use of the social cost of carbon dioxide will fare in the new administration?

A: The US government’s use of the social cost of carbon dioxide estimates began in 2008 in response to a court ruling, and that obligation continues. If the government wants to propose regulations that decrease or increase carbon dioxide emissions, it is required to analyze the economic consequences of doing so.

And, regardless of what happens at the federal level, the social cost of carbon dioxide is also being used in states like California, Minnesota, and New York to inform their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Q: How does this National Academies report relate to your research?

A: Much of the work of my research group, the Rutgers Earth System Science & Policy Lab, relates to the interface between physical changes in the climate and the economy, and to the characterization of uncertainty in physical changes and economic consequences.

In 2015, I and collaborators at the University of California, Berkeley and the Rhodium Group, wrote Economic Risks of Climate Change: An American Prospectus. Based on how people in the past have responded to variability in the climate, this book estimated the potential future economic damages climate change could cause in the United States. Now, joined also by collaborators at the University of Chicago, we’ve launched a new consortium, the Climate Impact Lab, that’s pursuing similar analyses at a global scale.

Source: Rutgers University

Related Books:

InnerSelf Market

Amazon

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…
A brown weasel with a white belly leans on a rock and looks over its shoulder
Once common weasels are doing a vanishing act
by Laura Oleniacz - NC State
Three species of weasels, once common in North America, are likely in decline, including a species that’s considered…
Flood risk will rise as climate heat intensifies
by Tim Radford
A warmer world will be a wetter one. Ever more people will face a higher flood risk as rivers rise and city streets…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.