New Climate Data Destroys Trump Claims

Experts: Phil Butler

What if the news came out that the United States will be slammed by climate change? Well, a new report from the EIEE – European Institute on Economics and the Environment and other experts shows the US will be hit harder than almost any other country by climate change.

The administration of President Donald Trump has, for the most part, used speculation and false bravado to scrap various environmental regulations, including pulling the US out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. The president went so far as to claim global warming is a hoax created by China to punish the US at one point.

This new research is the first time that scientists have fully developed a reliable set of data to show(interactive) how individual countries will be hit by the staggering costs of climate change. The bad news for the United States, India, and Saudi Arabia is that the new data reveals many high costs of climate emissions for the world’s biggest carbon dioxide producers. This latest news comes at a time when U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claims that climate change has “nothing to do” with global warming. But let’s look at the research. 

Unlike previous models, the work by the EIEE and other researchers was focused on estimating country-level contributions to the social cost of carbon (SCC) using recent climate model projections, empirical climate-driven economic damage estimations, and socioeconomic forecasts. The new data shows that the adjusted SCC is about $180–800 per ton of carbon emissions, more than ten times the estimate published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). What’s more, the country-level SCC for India, China, the US, and Saudia Arabia alone is estimated to be above $20 per ton – higher than the carbon prices of the European Trading System – the largest CO2 market in the world. UC San Diego assistant professor Kate Ricke, one of the key researchers on the data, issued this statement about the new data methods:

“We all know carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels affects people and ecosystems around the world, today and in the future; however, these impacts are not included in market prices, creating an environmental externality whereby consumers of fossil fuel energy do not pay for and are unaware of the true costs of their consumption.”

Ricke went on to suggest that current climate rulemaking may be off given the fact costs estimates are factored into policymaking. Previously, climate change costs were calculated using a global model showing the overall costs. This new method uses a country-by-country approach in order to reveal the real costs to each nation. One interesting offshoot of this research shows an interesting mix of nations that will benefit from the carbon equations. Russia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and most EU nations show the negative cost of carbon data.

The authors of this new report used powerful data science in order to generate hundreds of scenarios leveraging socio-economic data, climate figures, and other impacting uncertainties.  harnessed the power of data science by generating hundreds of scenarios spanning socio-economic, climate, and impact uncertainties. Laurent Drouet, a senior scientist at EIEE offered this:

“Although the ranking of world powers affected by climate change is robust across scenarios, the magnitude of the social cost of carbon is subject to considerable uncertainty.”

In a nutshell, what this means is that the EPA and by default the Trump administration, are using flawed data science to make decisions that affect every man, woman, and child on the planet. In order to cement the depth of the current leadership’s incompetence or malfeasance, allow me to quote from the 2014 National Climate Assessment (full report) of the U.S. Global Change Research Program concerning one of America’s healthiest ecosystems, the Pacific Northwest:

“An increase in average annual temperature of 3.3°F to 9.7°F is projected by 2070 to 2099 (compared to the period 1970 to 1999), depending largely on total global emissions of heat-trapping gases.” 

So, the leadership in Washington fully understands the consequences of flawed climate policy. I’ve given the Trump administration the benefit of the doubt in suggesting they are incompetent. It seems more likely that those behind the president, big energy, are still hell-bent on short-term profits no matter the risk. Returning to the psychotic Interior Secretary, we find his climate theories evangelized in the media when he blamed environmentalists seeking strict logging limits for actually causing disastrous wildfires. Zinke told a TV station in Northern California; “America is better than letting these radical groups control the dialogue about climate change.” He went on to say that logging is the “real key to preventing wildfires.” This is as if timber companies cut down dead trees and underbrush instead of old growth timber. This Tweet by President Trump showed his overall disconnect from climate reality and a misunderstanding of the situation in California. The New York Times even called the president out on his false claim California is misusing its “plentiful” water resources.

For those among you in need of another nail in the coffin of Trump’s energy policies, this quote from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) should suffice:

“The reduction of pollution and climate impact through rapidly increased use of renewable energy by 2030 could save up to USD 4.2 trillion per year worldwide – 15 times higher than the associated costs of doubling the share of renewables. Today’s energy markets, however, do not adequately value climate impact or air pollution. Energy and environmental policies need to correct for these externalities.”

Again, Trump’s climate science is either flawed or a lie; there is no way around this fact. Americans are about to save and earn a few more pennies based on a resurgence of fossil fuel-based economics, and lose their livelihoods and health in decades to come. I strongly urge you to observe the climate cost interactive linked to previously, the so-called Lorenz Curve.

For readers who are interested, the full EIEE report, “Country-level social cost of carbon,” by Katharine Ricke, Laurent Drouet, Ken Caldeira & Massimo Tavoni can be found at Natural Climate Change.


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