Global Warming costs: another view

by CoRev

The Senate’s global warming bill was defeated last week. The measure aimed to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 70 percent by mid-century through a cap-and-trade program. Cap and Trade is just one of the mitigation attempts to keep CO2 emissions below 450 Parts Per Million (PPM)s. We are now getting some meaningful estimates for the capping of CO2 world-wide, and they are not pretty.

Recently we had an article by Tom Bozzo about the costs of a Cap and Trade system for CO2 in the US. Titled “Some Fairly Pleasant CO2 Arithmetic”, and in comments he said that the current trading price was in the $3 to $6 per ton range.

Concurrently we had a Report issued by the International Energy Agency which estimated the total world-wide cost for mitigating CO2 by 50% by mid-century at $45 Trillion.

We have had a chance to pull back the covers on the IEA Report. An analysis by Dr Roger Pielke Jr, at his Prometheus site gives us this:

If we take the report’s marginal cost estimate of $200 to $500 per ton for mitigating carbon dioxide, then a simple estimate of the full costs from a frozen technology baseline would be an additional $210 to $530 trillion above the $45 trillion cited in the report. Yes, you read that right.

(Emphasis mine!) he goes on to describe what he meant by a “frozen technology baseline”, and frankly it was included to describe the extreme uncertainty in these kinds of estimates. Describing a more realistic scenario, he conjectures

What if the assumption of automatic decarbonization was off by only 10%? Then the additional cost would be an additional $21 to $53 billion, or about the same magnitude of the IEA’s total cost estimate of mitigation

With numbers such as these, is the arithmetic quite so happy about CO2? The Senate bill may very well have failed because these issues became public knowledge and more fully understood by some of the Senators.