Counting carbon: historic emissions from fossil fuels, long-run measures of sustainable development and carbon debt (25 page pdf, Jan Kunnasa, Eoin McLaughlin, Nick Hanley, David Greasley, Les Oxley and Paul Warde, Scandinavian Economic History Review, May 7, 2014)
Also discussed here: Who is responsible for climate change? (Science Daily, Jul. 4, 2014)
Today we review a very basic look at the cost of the carbon emitting countries not taking action earlier to reduce emissions to keep the accumulated atmospheric CO2 below a “safe” level of 350 ppm. The current level has just exceeded 400 ppm and the objective is to keep it below 450 ppm. The cumulative costs from 1902 to 2007, apportioned by emission source are estimated at over $6 trillion for the US, just over $4 trillion for the EU with China’s share rapidly climbing to just under $4 trillion. The costs in terms of climate impacts are felt by most if not all countries with the cost of refugees forced to emigrate by climate warming for example expected to increase eight fold to 200 million. The authors recommend the setting of a fixed carbon tax of $50/ton to account for this which balances the excess emission on the past when impacts were not as severe with the much greater impacts that result from excessive emissions recently.
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