A major component of the spring 2018 assessment called the Climate Science Special Report is currently under review at the White House. The report, which was written by scientists from thirteen separate institutions, states that human activity is responsible for steadily rising global temperatures from 1951 to 2010.
This report has not yet been approved by the Trump administration.
The authors of the report, Senior Advisor Brian Deese and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Jason Furman, point out that carbon pollution steadily decreased while the U.S. economy continued to improve from 2008-2015. During those years, carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. dropped by 9.5 percent while the economy grew by 10 percent.
These trends defy an old reality: increased carbon emissions means increased economic output.
Research from the International Energy Agency demonstrate that the same is true on an international scale. For example, although carbon dioxide emissions stayed the same in 2014 and 2015, the global economy grew.
The statement said that the international community took an important step in combating climate change when the Paris Agreement took effect in 2015. However, the report notes, “But Paris alone is not enough to avoid average global surface temperature increases that climate scientists say are very risky — additional policies that reduce CO2 emissions are needed, in the United States and elsewhere, to ensure that these damages are avoided.”
Failure to address climate change with meaningful policy is costly over time. The report expresses the estimated annual economic damages due to climate change as a fraction of the global gross domestic product from 2050 through 2100. “Climate damage cost” can be thought of as what all nations can expect to pay per year in terms of economic output due of the changing climate. These costs include sea level rise, illness and death related to heat, pollution, tropical diseases, and the effects of rising temperatures on agricultural productivity.
Figure 1 does not include those effects of climate change that are difficult to quantify, such as the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather. The statement said, “Failing to make investments in climate change mitigation could leave the global economy, and the U.S. economy, worse off in the future.”
The report ended with a warning:
“In deciding how much to reduce carbon pollution, and how quickly to act, countries must weigh the costs of policy action against estimates of avoided climate damages. But we should be clear-eyed about the fact that effective action is possible, and that the economic and fiscal costs of inaction are steep.”
Dubuque, Iowa was among 15 other local and tribal communities to be named Climate Action Champions by the White House last week.
Dubuque was recognized because of its Community Climate Action & Resiliency Plan which has set a greenhouse gas reduction goal of being 50 percent below 2003 levels by 2030. The plan – which examined Dubuque from 2003 to 2011 – traced emissions to four main sources: industrial (31%), residential (24%), transportation (23%), and commercial (17%), with the remaining 5 percent coming from the landfill methane.
The city hopes to further offset carbon emissions by further utilizing renewable energy sources. The report states that “solar and wind installations in Dubuque are expected to yield 10,000-30,000 mt (metric tonnes) of annual reductions by 2030.” Wind energy and other renewables generated 18 percent of electricity in Dubuque during the study in 2010.
In addition to efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Dubuque was also honored because of the city’s emphasis on flood-conscious infrastructure. Flooding on the Mississippi River has caused Dubuque to be declared a presidential disaster zone six times in the last 16 years so the city is now focused on mitigation efforts.
The plan aims to “cut carbon pollution from power plans by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.” Similar to the President’s health care initiative, individual states will be responsible for devising unique plans to meet the standard set by the federal government.
The article cites that farmers in Iowa and Minnesota currently generate up to 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources – such as solar and wind – while states in the southeast utilize nuclear energy. Critics say the new proposal will eliminate jobs and raise utility costs.