How Much Does Global Warming Cost? It could be drastically higher than government agencies have estimated
A new report suggests that the social cost of carbon — the economic damage done by one ton of carbon dioxide emissions — could be drastically higher than government agencies have estimated.
Most people understand that global warming is happening, but it is hard to get a firmer sense of exactly what effects it is going to have on the future of the world. Governments have started to approach climate change as a situation to evaluate using cost-benefit analysis: How much should we spend to fix the problem? How much will it cost us if we don’t?
As Judith Schwartz detailed in February (“The Social Cost of Carbon”), the U.S. government began regulating carbon dioxide emissions via the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement of the Clean Air Act. The U.S. calculated the social cost of carbon — the economic damage done by 1 ton of carbon dioxide emissions — through an Interagency Working Group made up of many different cabinet departments and agencies. They estimated the economic damage per ton of CO2 to be just $21, or only about 21 cents per gallon of gasoline.