Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What is the Social Cost of Carbon Pollution?

How do we define climate pollution's cost to society? (Elizabeth Shogren, DC Dispatch Jan. 27, 2016)

Also discussed here: Evidence on the Impact of Sustained Exposure to Air Pollution on Life Expectancy from China’s Huai River Policy (53 page pdg, , Yuyu Chen, Avraham Ebenstein, Michael Greenstone and Hongbin Li, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Economics, Working Paper Series, Jun.20, 2013)

And here: Americans Are Living Longer, Thanks to the Clean Air Act (Melissa C. Lott, Scientific American, Jan. 31, 2016

Today we review a paper by an Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon (United States Government) which estimated the economic benefit of carbon pollution reductions, taking into account future discount rates and, using a model, the atmospheric impact of a metric ton of carbon, and how it affects earth temperatures in terms of a range of impacts such stresses to agriculture and increased need for air conditioning etc. Estimated costs to 2050 range from $11 (at a predicted 5% average rate) to $221(at 3% rate) per metric ton of CO2. The opposite side of this issue is the cost of imposing a government policy which results in damages to the public,

One example of air pollution policy yielding benefits is the Clean Air Act in the USA which has produced 336 million life-years since 1970. Another example from Northern China (with a 500M population, greater than the entire USA) where an earlier policy (which was reversed in 2007) to burn coal to support industry resulted in health impacts and a loss of 2.5 million life years of life expectancy for the region- or 5.5 years per person. The need to consider this direct cost and benefit, as well as the incentive value of carbon pricing to encourage renewable energy use, is obvious. social cost poll

 Key Quotes:

“The value of carbon emissions reduction is certainly not zero.. if the cost of polluting is not zero, what it is? Fletcher’s ruling challenged government officials to come up with a dollar amount that represents how much a ton of carbon pollution will “cost” society over the long run. Economists refer to this as the social cost of carbon. “

“climate change affects many aspects of society, including public health, environment, agriculture, natural disasters and economies…The damages from the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — everything from heat waves to sea level rise — are felt across the globe.”

“First, the models estimate how a metric ton of carbon pollution will impact concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Second, the models estimate how those concentrations will affect temperature on Earth. Third, they analyze how increases in temperature will translate into a range of impacts”

“the Environmental Protection Agency’s analysis of its Clean Power Plan cites benefits in carbon dioxide reductions in 2030 that range from $6 billion to $60 billion”

“The population in Northern China between 1990 and 2000 exceeded 500 million. ..an arbitrary Chinese policy that greatly increases total suspended particulates (TSP) air pollution is causing the 500 million residents of Northern China to lose more than 2.5 billion life years of life expectancy.. life expectancies are about 5.5 (95% CI: 0.8, 10.2) years lower in the North due to an increased incidence of cardiorespiratory mortality.”

“Americans have gained 336 million life-years since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970”

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