Emissions cuts could actually aid economy, predicts a new Yale website
A national policy to cut carbon emissions by as much as 40% over the next 20 years could result in increased economic growth,
according to an interactive website that reviews 25 of the leading models used
to predict the economic impacts of reducing emissions.
“As Congress prepares to debate new legislation to address the threat of
climate change, opponents claim that the costs of adopting the leading proposals
would be ruinous to the U.S. economy. The world’s leading economists who
have studied the issue say that’s wrong — and you can find out for
yourself,” says Robert Repetto, professor in the practice of economics
and sustainable development at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental
Studies, who created the site.
The interactive website — www.climate.yale.edu/seeforyourself — synthesized
thousands of policy analyses in order to identify the seven key assumptions accounting
for most of the differences in the model predictions. The site allows visitors
to choose which assumptions they believe are most realistic and then view the
predictions of the economic models based on the chosen assumptions.
Among the key optimistic assumptions are that renewable energy technologies will
be available at stable or increasing prices; that higher fossil fuel prices will
stimulate energy-saving technological change; that reducing U.S. carbon emissions
will reduce economic damages from climate change and air pollution; and that
the United States will incorporate international trading of emission permits
into its national policy.
Growth rates of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have been 3% per year over
recent decades. With emissions reduced by 40% below projected business-as-usual
trends, even under most pessimistic assumptions the GDP would grow by 2.4% per
year, reaching $23 trillion by 2030, according to the website. Under the most
favorable assumptions, the GDP would rise slightly above 3% a year.
“The website shows that even under the most unfavorable assumptions regarding
costs, the U.S. economy is predicted to continue growing robustly as carbon emissions
are reduced,” says Repetto. “Under favorable assumptions, the economy
would grow more rapidly if emissions are reduced through national policy measures
than if they are allowed to increase as in the past.”
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