Tuesday, December 12, 2006

$77 per Ton

Earlier this fall, Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist for the World Bank, issued a report on the potential economic costs of climate change. His headline figure was that the annual worldwide costs due to climate change could amount to 20% of world economic output by 2100. Insurance companies are already beginning to take note of such dire warnings and are raising premiums on waterfront property or refusing to insure it altogether.

The report also contained another useful estimate: a present-value "social cost" of $85 per tonne of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere -- equivalent to about $77 per U.S. ton. It represents the discounted sum of all the future climate-change costs imposed on society by each ton of CO2 that we take out of the ground and send into the atmosphere. For example, at eight-tenths of a pound of CO2 emitted per mile, driving the typical car costs society 3 cents a mile -- or $300 for every 10,000 miles -- just in terms of climate change.


Anonymous said...

If this is about your trip down to Connecticut, don't feel remorseful... Stern's down at Zardoz levels of his personal chart and is sitting around waiting for the re-revisionists to pick up his argument again...


Karlissimo del Banco said...

We need MORE CO2 in the atmosphere to bring down the price per ton - just like oil; simple supply & demand logic! The real enemy is the OPEC-like coalition of anti-CO2 environmental economists who hate America.

C - Log said...

Thanks for the opinionjournal link, Anon. The social cost figures are indeed all over the map. Some studies Stern mentioned pegged them even higher than his figure of $85 per tonne.

Lomborg's point about prioritizing the taking care of sick, starving people right now is well taken. Certainly they have as least a large a claim on our resources as do future generations.

Of course, there's no reason why we can't do both climate change and global health at the same time.

Right now I'd be glad to drop climate change and support the $75 billion global health fix. Unfortunately, I personally do not have $75 billion.

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