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

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Product Description: The international community has agreed on the Copenhagen Accord that “climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time.” For them Carbon Dioxide emissions are the greatest reason for this change (Zhao and Du 39). Others argue that it is not a cause, that it is just a coincidence, that actually the Carbon Dioxide emissions are not a threat to the world. During an event hosted by the United States Energy Association, Roger Bezek, a consultant to energy companies, said, “CO2 is basically plant food, and the more CO2 in the environment the better plants do” (Milbank). Even though this is a hot topic nowadays the more fundamental question is: Are we taking care of our planet? And the answer is a very concise NO. There have been efforts to stop the relentless increase in the levels of carbon dioxide emissions, but these efforts have brought little relief to the main problem. During the last 60 years the levels of Carbon Dioxide emissions have increased dramatically. This is the moment when Carbon Dioxide emission regulations need to become stricter. This will bring challenges but these are challenges that need to be faced now; if not, not long from now the new main topic will be looking for a new planet to host us.





Product Description: In the past century Carbon Dioxide emissions have increased; some scientist say that is the accumulation of this gas and other green house in the atmosphere for a very long period the causing of this increasing change in the world (Iwata, 326). Other argue that it is not a cause that is just a coincidence, that actually the Carbon Dioxide emissions are not a threat to the world. Roger Bezdek, a consultant to energy companies, said “CO2 is basically plant food, and the more CO2 in the environment the better plants do” during an event hosted by the United States Energy Association. (The Washington Post). This controversy has made the organizations in charge of regulation to start looking into make the laws and regulations stricter. But before doing this the negative effects need to be analyzed.





Product Description: The international community has agreed on the Copenhagen Accord that “climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time”.Since the Industrial Revolution the amounts of CO2 emissions caused by men have raised dramatically. “Carbon dioxide (CO2) released to the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels is a major contributor, and the major anthropogenic contributor, to the rise of the CO2 concentration observed in the atmosphere.” Ice cores have been used to measure carbon dioxide concentrations back over the last 650,000 years. Never in the history of the planet the levels have been so high. They pass the maximum amount ever registered by a third of its value.



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