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New Study Finds Incredibly High Carbon Pollution Costs — Especially For the US and India

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: 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 ($37 per ton) — 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. [The Guardian’s Dana Nuccitelli] asked Ricke to describe her team’s approach in this study: To calculate social cost of carbon, you need to answer four questions in sequence:
1. How would the economy change with no climate change (including GHG emissions)?
2. How does the Earth system respond to emissions of carbon dioxide?
3. How does the economy respond to changes in the Earth system?
4. How should we value losses today vs. in (for example) 100 years?

The team answered these questions using four “modules”: a socio-economic module to answer the first question, a climate module to address the second, a damages module to investigate the third, and a discounting module to tackle the fourth.

That study detailed the relationship between a country’s average temperature and its per capita GDP, finding a sweet spot around 13C (55F). That’s the optimal temperature for human economic productivity. Economies in countries with lower average temperatures like Canada and Russia would benefit from additional warming, but it would slow economic growth for nations closer to the equator with hotter temperatures. The United States is currently right near the peak temperature, whereas many European countries like Germany, the UK, and France are 3-5C cooler, and a bit below the ideal economic temperature. So, continued global warming is worse for the US economy than Europe’s.

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