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The social cost of atmospheric release

Author

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  • Shindell, Drew T.

Abstract

The author presents a multi-impact economic valuation framework called the Social Cost of Atmospheric Release (SCAR) that extends the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) used previously for carbon dioxide (CO2) to a broader range of pollutants and impacts. Values consistently incorporate health and agricultural impacts of air quality along with climate damages. The latter include damages associated with aerosol-induced hydrologic cycle changes that lead to net climate benefits when reducing cooling aerosols. Evaluating a 1% reduction in current global emissions, benefits with a high discount rate are greatest for reductions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), followed by co-emitted products of incomplete combustion (PIC) and then CO2 and methane. With a low discount rate, benefits are greatest for CO2 reductions, and are nearly equal to the total from SO2, PIC and methane. These results suggest that efforts to mitigate atmosphere-related environmental damages should target a broad set of emissions including CO2, methane and aerosols. Illustrative calculations indicate environmental damages are $150-510 billion per year for current US electricity generation (~6-20¢ per kWh for coal, ~2-11¢ for gas) and $0.73±0.34 per gallon of gasoline ($1.20±0.70 per gallon for diesel). These results suggest that total atmosphere-related environmental damages plus generation costs are greater for coal-fired power than other sources, and damages associated with gasoline vehicles exceed those for electric vehicles.

Suggested Citation

  • Shindell, Drew T., 2013. "The social cost of atmospheric release," Economics Discussion Papers 2013-56, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwedp:201356
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    File URL: http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2013-56
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/85245/1/77049417X.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben & Panopoulou, Ekaterini & Pantelidis, Theologos, 2015. "Declining discount rates and the Fisher Effect: Inflated past, discounted future?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 32-49.
    2. Caplan, Arthur J. & Silva, Emilson C.D., 2005. "An efficient mechanism to control correlated externalities: redistributive transfers and the coexistence of regional and global pollution permit markets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 68-82, January.
    3. Kopp, Robert E. & Golub, Alexander & Keohane, Nathaniel O. & Onda, Chikara, 2012. "The influence of the specification of climate change damages on the social cost of carbon," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-40.
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    1. repec:eee:rensus:v:81:y:2018:i:p2:p:3111-3119 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    environmental economics; valuation; air pollution; climate; government policy;

    JEL classification:

    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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