Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tuesday 17

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Comprehensive Study:  Carbon Taxes Won't Hamper the Economy - by Dana1981

Eleven teams participated in a recent Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) project, examining the economic and environmental impacts of a carbon tax.  The studies included “revenue recycling,” in which the funds generated from a carbon tax are returned to taxpayers either through regular household rebate checks (similar to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby [CCL] and Climate Leadership Council [CLC] proposals) or by offsetting income taxes (similar to the approach in British Columbia).

Among the eleven modeling teams the key findings were consistent.  First, a carbon tax is effective at reducing carbon pollution, although the structure of the tax (the price and the rate at which it rises) are important.  Second, this type of revenue-neutral carbon tax would have a very modest impact on the economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP).  In all likelihood it would slightly slow economic growth, but by an amount that would be more than offset by the benefits of cutting pollution and slowing global warming.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are again on the verge of introducing a Resolution denouncing a carbon tax as “detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.”

The strong economic case for a carbon tax
The modeling teams examined four carbon tax scenarios, with starting prices of $25 or $50 per ton of carbon dioxide, rising at 1% or 5% per year.  These are somewhat modest policy scenarios; CCL proposes a starting tax of $15 per ton rising at $10 per year, and the CLC proposes $40 per ton rising around 4% per year.  The most aggressive policy considered by the Stanford EMF teams ($50 per ton rising 5% per year) falls in between these two proposals.

The modeling studies consistently found that for all four carbon tax policies considered, whether the revenue is returned via rebate checks of by offsetting income taxes, the direct economic impact is minimal:
in every policy scenario, in every model, the U.S. economy continues to grow at or near its long-term average baseline rate, deviating from reference growth by no more than about 0.1% points.  We find robust evidence that even the most ambitious carbon tax is consistent with long-term positive economic growth, near baseline rates, not even counting the growth benefits of a less-disrupted climate or lower ambient air pollution
The last sentence is critical.  The analyses consistently found that coal power plants would be the biggest losers if a carbon tax were implemented, and the costs associated with health impacts from other pollutants released by burning coal (e.g. soot and mercury) are substantial.  Phasing out coal power plants results in significant health and economic benefits to society.

So does slowing global warming, of course.  A working paper recently published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond concluded that US economic growth would slow by an extra 0.2–0.5% per year if we stay on our current climate path (3–3.5°C global warming) than if we meet the 2°C Paris target.  This compares favorably to a less than 0.1% per year slowing of the US economic growth rate under the carbon tax scenarios.

In short, climate change will slow American economic growth.  If we don’t curb global warming, the economic impact will be larger.  If we implement a carbon tax to help meet the Paris climate targets, the economic impact will be negligible, and will be offset by the benefits of phasing out dirty coal power plants.

Read more at Comprehensive Study:  Carbon Taxes Won't Hamper the Economy

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday 16

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Trump Is Wrecking the Climate and Free Trade.  Here Is a Common Solution for Both.

Instead of tit-for-tat retaliation to US tariffs, trade partners should link their response to climate goals and kill two birds with one stone.

A tax on the carbon footprint of goods traded across national borders is one way to enforce climate commitments (Pic: NOAA/Captain Albert E. Theberge)A tax on the carbon footprint of goods traded across national borders is one way to enforce climate commitments (Picture Credit: NOAA/Captain Albert E. Theberge) Click to Enlarge.
Countries affected by US tariff increases are weighing their options for retaliation. Many of the same countries have pledged to lead the fight against climate change.  By basing their countermeasures on the carbon footprint of US goods, these countries can defend their trade interests and underscore their commitment to climate action.

Last week, the simmering trade conflict between the US and many of its trade partners entered into a new phase.  After increasing tariffs on imports such as washing machines, solar cells, soya beans, steel, and aluminium during the first half of 2018, the White House announced on July 10 that it would target an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports with new tariffs. China has already promised to strike back in kind.

As countries consider how to respond to US protectionism, they have a rare opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.  So far, trade partners have taken the traditional route of dollar-for-dollar counter-tariffs on politically sensitive goods.  The result is a trade war that risks spiralling out of control.  A better option would be to target US goods based on their carbon intensity, drawing attention to climate priorities in a language the White House understands.

In a new comment in Nature magazine, we discuss the potential for so-called “border carbon adjustments” (BCAs) to strengthen climate action in the current tariff standoff.  BCAs are tariffs or other carbon constraints imposed on carbon-intensive imported goods.  They help prevent relocation of jobs and investment due to uneven climate action, and thereby alleviate a central hurdle for political leadership on climate change.  They also incentivize laggard countries to engage in climate cooperation as a way of averting such constraints.

The Nature comment links our research on BCAs with the ongoing trade conflict prompted by US tariff increases.  Economic studies have shown that properly designed BCAs can be an effective tool to level the competitive playing field and enable sustained climate leadership.  Unlike existing measures to address uneven climate efforts, including exemptions and rebates, they do not mute the effect of emission-curbing policies.  With adequate procedural safeguards, moreover, BCAs can be implemented in a way that respects international trade law requirements.

Read more at Trump Is Wrecking the Climate and Free T rade.  Here Is a Common Solution for Both.

Buried Internet Infrastructure At Risk As Sea Levels Rise

Seawater inundation projected for New York City by 2033 and its effect on internet infrastructure. Anything in the blue shaded areas is estimated to be underwater in 15 years. Credit: Paul Barford) Click to Enlarge.
Thousands of miles of buried fiber optic cable in densely populated coastal regions of the United States may soon be inundated by rising seas, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon.

The study, presented July 16, 2018 at a meeting of internet network researchers, portrays critical communications infrastructure that could be submerged by rising seas in as soon as 15 years, according to the study's senior author, Paul Barford, a UW-Madison professor of computer science.

"Most of the damage that's going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later," says Barford, an authority on the "physical internet" -- the buried fiber optic cables, data centers, traffic exchanges and termination points that are the nerve centers, arteries and hubs of the vast global information network.  "That surprised us.  The expectation was that we'd have 50 years to plan for it.  We don't have 50 years."

Read more at Buried Internet Infrastructure At Risk As Sea Levels Rise

China, EU Reaffirm Paris Climate Commitment, Vow More Cooperation

Wind turbines in Tianjin. China and the EU say they are determined to forge ahead with Paris and accelerate the global transition to clean energy. (Photograph Credit: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
China and the European Union on Monday reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate change pact and called other signatories to do the same, saying action against rising global temperatures had become more important than ever.

Following President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw the United States from the agreement, China and the European Union have emerged as the biggest champions of the 2015 accord, which aims to keep global temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. 

Read more at China, EU Reaffirm Paris Climate Commitment, Vow More Cooperation