"LONDON - The U.S. government is drastically underestimating the social cost of carbon dioxide emissions, which is 3.6 times higher than the estimate currently used to inform many of Washington's key climate policies, a study suggested on Thursday.
Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas chiefly responsible for global warming and therefore negatively affects human wellbeing. U.S. economists call this the "social cost" and they calculate it in dollars, considering repercussions such as changes in agricultural productivity, damages from sea level rise and worsening human health.
The U.S. currently puts that cost at around $51 per metric tonne — a figure which dates back to the Obama administration, adjusted for inflation. But in research published Thursday in the journal Nature, a team of American scientists say the reality of such damages is likely far greater, at $185 per tonne.
That's important because "higher estimates of the social cost motivate more ambitious mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions," said co-author Brian Prest, an economist at the non-profit Resources for the Future."
Gloria Dickie and Simon Jessop report for Reuters September 1, 2022.
"Carbon Should Cost 3.6 Times More Than US Price, Study Says" (AP)