The costs of carbon pollution borne by society are far higher than the amount the government uses when calculating the costs and benefits of new regulations, a study in Nature finds. Each ton of CO2 pollution, according to the study, imposes $185 of damage — that’s more than triple the amount currently used by the federal government.
“The bottom line is that our results show that when you fully update the social cost of carbon methodology to the state of the science, it suggests that the existing estimates that are in use by the federal government are vastly underestimating the harm,” Kevin Rennert, a co-author of the paper and research fellow at Resources for the Future, told the Washington Post.
Making policy based on a social cost of carbon 3.6 times greater than the current $51 estimate means the economic benefits of actions and policies to slash carbon pollution increase substantially. “It suggests there are many more actions we can take to curb carbon emissions that are going to be on the table that were not on the table before,” Stanford economist Marshall Burke, told the AP. (Washington Post $, AP, The Hill, Politico Pro $, Grist, Reuters, Barron’s/AFP, Quartz)