What is the Social Cost of Carbon Emissions?

What is the Social Cost of Carbon Emissions?


JAISAL NOOR: Welcome to The Real News Network.
I’m Jaisal Noor in Baltimore. And welcome to this latest edition of The PERI Report. Carbon dioxide is one of the most critical
gases in relation to climate change emitted due to human activities. It can remain in
the atmosphere for many thousands of years. In an attempt to deal with this issue, the
U.S. government has formed a task force called the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost
of Carbon. In May of this year, the working group released new estimates that put the
social cost of carbon–the value of preventing a ton of carbon emissions–at somewhere between
$11 and $221 per ton. In other words, that’s what we should be prepared to spend to prevent
carbon emissions and to save the planet from global warming. Here to talk with me about this issue is James
Boyce. He’s the director of the Program on Development, Peace Building, and the Environment
at the PERI Institute. He’s also a professor of economics at UMass Amherst. Thank you for joining us today. JAMES BOYCE: Nice to be back, Jaisal. NOOR: So what is this cost-benefit analysis? BOYCE: Well, as the name suggests, it’s a
way of weighing up the trade-offs that we face as individuals or as a society, the trade-offs
between costs of doing something or not doing something and the benefits that come with
it. So in the case of these estimates of the so-called social cost of carbon, the idea
is to figure out how much should we be willing to spend to prevent global warming given the
costs that are associated with an unstable climate future for our planet. So in certain ways this is an exercise that
might seem to make sense. I mean, as a society, we do have to make choices, and it seems like
weighing up cost and benefits is a reasonable way to go about it, and in principle these
are costs and benefits to the whole society, present and future generations, not just to
specific individuals. So this is sometimes described as being all about efficiency. There are two main problems with cost-benefit
analysis, however. One is that everything has to be reduced to dollars and cents. Everything
has to be put into that money measure. So that’s problematic. And then the second set
of problems has to do with the methods that are used to pin dollar values on things like
having a stable climate in the future on planet Earth. NOOR: Now, is this the same as cost effectiveness? BOYCE: That’s a really good question. They’re
not exactly the same thing. When people talk about efficiency, sometimes they mean cost-benefit
analysis, sometimes they mean cost effectiveness. The difference is that cost effectiveness
is about how we reach a goal in the most efficient manner, in the lowest-cost manner. But the
goal would be set on some other basis than cost-benefit analysis. It might be based on
public health, for example, or on a responsibility for the well-being of future generations,
also sometimes called sustainability. So in the case of global warming, we might say that
our objective is to return the carbon dioxide content of the Earth’s atmosphere to 350 parts
per million or let it rise to 450 parts per million or whatever. And then we just just
ask the question: what’s the cheapest way to meet that goal? That’s cost effectiveness. Cost-benefit analysis goes a big step further,
in that it uses or purports to use economic analysis to set the goal itself. So rather
than saying, well, we have a responsibility to future generations to keep the planet,
you know, within the following range of parts per million of carbon dioxide or whatever,
the cost-benefit analysis says, well, you know, how much is it worth to save the planet,
and how much should we be willing to spend? And on that basis it comes up with a goal
which is also sometimes described as being efficient. But it hasn’t been set on the basis
of anything other than these dollars and cents calculations. NOOR: So you’re saying it doesn’t make much
sense to use cost-benefit analysis to set environmental goals, especially when, you
know, we’re talking about the survival of the planet. BOYCE: Well, I think many people–and I would
include myself in this–would argue that there are some things in life, some decisions we
face as a society where the things we’re talking about are really priceless. They’re not a
matter of dollars and cents. I mean, after all, we as a society ban slavery. We ban murder.
We don’t ask what are the costs and benefits of allowing slavery or allowing murder. We
don’t say, how much is it worth for the victims to avoid being killed and how much is it worth
for the killers to kill them? We don’t do that. We say that people have a right not
to be enslaved, people have a right not to be murdered. Well, in the same way, we might say that people
have a right to clean air, to clean water, or to a stable climate future and that the
question here is not how do we weigh up what it’s worth to them to have those things, but
rather we say those are their rights, we have to respect those rights, and we want to find
the most cost effective way of doing so. So that, I think, is one of the major problems
with this notion that everything can be reduced to dollars and cents. It really misses the
fundamental idea that there are rights and there are things that really could and should
be treated as priceless rather than be treated as if it’s analogous to the decision of whether
or not to buy a new car or what sort of fuel efficiency vehicle I want to invest in. NOOR: So, James Boyce, thank you so much for
joining us for part one of this conversation. BOYCE: Thank you, Jaisal. NOOR: We’re going to continue this conversation
in part two. We’ll post that at TheRealNews.com. Thank you so a much for joining us.

29 Comments

  1. ShiekYerbooty says:

    All life on this planet is carbon based, plants breathe carbon dioxide

    please stfu

  2. MsJustwatchme says:

    I'm 95% sure that carbon is not driving climactic change. (I figure since the politicians at the IPCC can just make up fake statistical opinions, so can I). And shouldn't you be paying us for all the Co2 you expelled wasting our time with this video?

  3. LeGioNoFZioN says:

    carbon emissions focused plans are a scam. pollution is a big deal, focusing on carbon to the exclusion of real pollution is fallacious

  4. LeGioNoFZioN says:

    so filling the air with what all flora require to live is an act of pollution ? what a fauna centric way to think

  5. lumel666 says:

    climate change is real, humans are doing it, face it, we fucked up and now its time to pay for this, we can either keep in denial or be responsible and face the challenge

  6. LeGioNoFZioN says:

    and you don't think rationally.

  7. LeGioNoFZioN says:

    and your replies lack creativity and reason

  8. LeGioNoFZioN says:

    2 points for poetic flare, you are learning my son

  9. mysticfool says:

    The Real… *SOLD*! To the highest bidder.

  10. Carpe Veritas says:

    THAT IS NOT REAL NEWS……IT IS JUST THE SAME PROPAGANDA BRAINWASHING OPERATION AS ALL LARGE TV NETWORKS.
    "Unsubscribed"

  11. Carpe Veritas says:

    THE SUN IS CAUSING THE HEAT, NOT HUMANS!

  12. astifan1 says:

    so what kind of expertese u have to find yourself qualified to estimate what is causing global warming ?

  13. John Kloc says:

    That's it, what shit. Since the 70's it was about factories and cars polluting, now it's us. I'm done I'm unsubscribing. This so-called news is more shit. I will eat what I choose not your false-hoods. Corbettreport-IPCC exposed

  14. Carpe Veritas says:

    Well, you and everybody can study a subject so deep that you become an expert, be aware that info's from the main news agencies on many events are manipulated and fabricated. I woke up on WTC 7, the tower that went down without plane hit, so I investigated it online and with books. After that I enjoyed to take on every big event from "Holocaust" to murder's of JFK, his brother, his son, Flight TWA 800, Oklahoma bombing, "Moon landing", NWO – Zionist Agenda….it's all there but it's not on CNN.

  15. astifan1 says:

    It is logical that mainsteam media is pushing for interests of their owners,anf for interest of firms who pay for commercials there.
    Also same goes for politicians coz they are funded by very same firmy.But also it is mistake to generalize and think all is set up.
    There are still fair people in this world,especialy regardering natural science. Well i do to belive Kenedy males have been killed but i just belive that,cant say its 100% coz no proof.

  16. BuddhaBebop says:

    the social cost of carbon emissions and other forms of pollution? none of course. dont you all be silly. the market says there are no social costs. pollution is a kneejerk left wing myth. silly bastards with their endless song about a clean planet. aint they cute…

  17. neo nero says:

    The hell with you guys and your global warming deception. I'm gone!

  18. annoloki says:

    Are the Kock Brothers paying people go 'dislike' any videos about climate change?

  19. annoloki says:

    Instead of just looking for information that agrees with you, make sure you also look for the information which disagrees with you. Eg, read the official report on how WTC7 collapsed. Maybe you have already, but, ya can't dismiss it if you've never read it

  20. CRABBYBAG says:

    PRETTY SOON CARBON DIOXIDE WILL BE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST OF THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT. THEY ARE JUST TRYING TO MAKE US BELIEVE THINGS ARE GOING ON AS USUAL, BUT IT'S ALREADY TOO LATE TO TRY AND FIX THIS BROKEN WORLD. THE ONLY OUT IS JESUS CHRIST, THATS IT, THERE IS NO OTHER. PUT ASIDE YOUR PRIDE AND TURN TO JESUS BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE. ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH GOD'S GRACE AND THE SACRIFICE OF HIS SON TO REDEAM US FROM SATAN OR MUCH SUFFERING AND DEATH. CHOOSE WISLEY. GOD BLESS =}

  21. Xdeser 2 says:

    My God these comments are fantastic

    Yup, people.

    Everything thats known on a large level is a conspiracy.

    Climate change is made up by wealthy people to take your money and freedom.

    uh huh, sure

  22. Noone says:

    I love real news but they really need to figure out some better way to produce the segments. What's with the arbitrary division into "parts"? and it's so confusing to try and figure out where a certain interview segment begins and ends (especially Jay's new reality asserts itself series). again, i'm a big fan (and monthly supporter), but it would be a huge improvement if the content were to be organized a bit better!

  23. Carpe Veritas says:

    I was for 7 years a 9/11 brainwash victim and hooked on the official lie. Just the fact that I learned about WTC 7 in 2008 and most of the general public today still know nothing about this building, proofs that "NEWS" are filtered and we are manipulated. 9/11 Report is a fraud. All WTC buildings came down because of planted explosives. It's all online and books, so it's up to each person to choose the sources they get info's from. 9/11 is easy to learn good material..other events more difficult

  24. Edward Black says:

    As George Carlin said: there's nothing wrong with the planet; the planet is fine. But we're fucked. So pack your shit — 🙂

  25. Edward Black says:

    So, 97 percent of climate scientists are lying? Why?

  26. zephyrsimon says:

    you never subscribed.

  27. 4390100 says:

    No their not lying, the climate always is changing, that is not their point, it's that humans caused the change. You see they cannot even talk straight, they have to constantly work around the real problem and change the name of their game from Global Warming to Global Climate Change, if that does not work they'll change it again. It's not that the 95% of scientist agree, it's 95% of the authors of the report agree with what they themselves conclude. /watch?v=rmLmaqf7UWc

  28. zephyrsimon says:

    yup ecology is so predictable

  29. Graham Lyons says:

    When the average temperature was 2º to 3º higher than now, all living things thrived.

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