The University Network

Climate Change Costing US $250 Billion Annually

A recent report from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) shows that the U.S.’s economy will suffer worse from climate change than nearly any other country in the world.

This groundbreaking research marks the first time scientists have measured the economic harm carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions pose on individual countries.

The researchers calculated each country’s “social cost of carbon” (SCC), which is the measurement of the annual costs of damage imposed by CO2 emissions.

The three countries that stand to lose the most from climate change are the U.S., India and Saudi Arabia.

The researchers also determined that worldwide economic damage from climate change is significantly worse than previous models proposed.

Models developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggest that, by 2020, global costs per metric ton of CO2 emissions would range from $12 to $62. The new study suggests the world’s SCC to be much higher at $180 to $800 per ton of CO2.

The U.S. alone is estimated to have a SCC of $50 per ton of CO2. Since the U.S. emits five billion metric tons of CO2 per year, climate change is costing the economy close to $250 billion annually.

Because CO2 pollution occurs all over the world, the past models focused on global costs of carbon emissions.

In order to accomplish the difficult task of measuring country-level SCC, the researchers combined results from various climate studies and models.

A paper describing the full study is published in the journal Nature.

Role in lawmaking

Federal agencies and law makers use SCC calculations to justify policy decisions.

The recent study proves that the U.S. economy will be hit much harder from climate change than some politicians previously proposed.

“Our analysis demonstrates that the argument that the primary beneficiaries of reductions in carbon dioxide emissions would be other countries is a total myth,” Kate Ricke, an assistant professor in the UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy and Scripps Institution of Oceanography and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

“We consistently find, through hundreds of uncertainty scenarios, that the U.S. always has one of the highest country-level SCCs,” she continued. “It makes a lot of sense because the larger your economy is, the more you have to lose. Still, it’s surprising just how consistently the U.S. is one of the biggest losers, even when compared to other large economies.”

Global efforts

Countries in the EU have been the international leaders in climate action, but economic threat levels are much higher elsewhere.

The results should serve as a warning to the U.S., India, Saudi Arabia and the other major polluters in the world that their emissions have monetary consequences.

The authors hope that the economic ramifications of climate change shown in this study will incentivize individual countries to join forces and act “in their own self-interest” to fight climate change.