New study finds incredibly high carbon pollution costs – especially for the US and India | Dana Nuccitelli | Environment | The Guardian

New study finds incredibly high carbon pollution costs – especially for the US and India
As a wealthy, warm country, the US would benefit from implementing a carbon tax to slow global warming
Dana Nuccitelli
Mon 1 Oct 2018 11.00 BST

Shares 376 Comments311 [image: Mike Dupray rides his Segway scooter through town during a record-breaking heat wave in Walnut Creek, Calif., Saturday, July 22, 2006.] Mike Dupray rides his Segway scooter through town during a record-breaking heat wave in Walnut Creek, Calif., Saturday, July 22, 2006. Photograph: Karl Mondon/AP
The social cost of carbon is a measure of the economic damages caused (via climate change) by each ton of carbon pollution that we produce today. It’s difficult to estimate because of physical, economic, and ethical uncertainties. For example, it’s difficult to predict exactly when various climate tipping points will be triggered, how much their damages will cost, and there’s also a question about how much we value the welfare of future generations (which is incorporated in the choice of ‘discount rate ’).
In 2013, the Obama administration set the federal social cost of carbon estimate at $37 per ton of carbon dioxide (up from the previous estimate of $22). That was a conservative estimate – in recent years, research has pegged the value closer to $200 because recent research has shown that global warming slows economic growth, which makes it quite expensive. A majority of economists in a 2015 survey believed the federal estimate was too low , but Republicans have recently been trying to dramatically lower it anyway.
The Republican argument is twofold. First, that we should only consider domestic climate costs (the federal estimate is of global costs, because our carbon pollution doesn’t just hover in the air above America). Second, that instead of trying to stop climate change now, we should just save our money and let future generations pay for its costs (by using a high discount rate). *The social cost of carbon is much higher yet* Sign up to the Green Light email to get the planet’s most important stories
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A new study led by UC San Diego’s Katharine Ricke published in Nature Climate Change found that not only is the global social cost of carbon dramatically higher than the federal estimate – probably between $177 and $805 per ton, most likely $417 – but that the cost to America is around $50 per ton. That’s the second-highest in the world behind India’s $90, and is also higher than the current federal estimate for the *global *social cost of carbon.
That’s a remarkable conclusion worth repeating. Ricke’s team found that the cost of carbon pollution to just the United States is probably higher than its government’s current estimate of costs to the entire world. And the actual global cost is more than 10 times higher than the federal estimate. And yet Republican politicians think that estimate should be much *lower*.

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