Friday, February 28, 2014

Carbon Emissions Costing Americans $37 Per Tonne

Don't kid yourself, they're costing you plenty too.

The U.S. government has run the numbers on the social costs of carbon emissions to Americans.

Climate change impacts - from more extreme droughts and floods to effects like crop losses and sea-level rise - are costing Americans $37 per tonne of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, according to an updated estimate by the U.S. government.

The costs come in the form of higher food prices, rising insurance bills, greater spending on healthcare and more taxpayer dollars spent on things like federal emergency relief, economists say.

But the “social cost” of climate-changing emissions, updated from $21 a tonne back in 2010, probably still substantially underestimates the true costs associated with climate change, argues Laurie Johnson, chief economist with the Natural Resources Defense Fund, a New York-based environmental advocacy group.

Gernot Wagner, a senior economist with the Environmental Defense Fund, another green advocacy group, said such omissions mean the cost “can only be seen as a conservative or lower-bound estimate”.

It's hard to know quite what to make of this methodology.  CO2, of course, is released into the atmosphere so it will have impacts not just in the United States but in every country to some degree.


Purple library guy said...

I wonder what this means. Is it, like, comparing current emissions to current weather events, taking the tons and dividing them by the costs? Because we know the costs of a ton of carbon today will be felt over quite a few years from now and those costs are escalating. I don't see how a cost like this could avoid being awfully low.

The Mound of Sound said...

I was left as perplexed as you on this PLG.