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CO2 Emission Reduction: How Much Bang for Our Bucks?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

So, Friday a bunch of heads of state will sign their nations’ pledges for CO2 emission reductions under the Paris climate treaty at a celebratory ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Question: What difference will all the pledged reductions make in global average temperature (GAT), and what will it cost?

Bjorn Lomborg, in a peer-reviewed article (using only assumptions and models that the climate alarmist UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] accepts), calculates, “All climate policies by the US, China, the EU and the rest of the world, implemented from the early 2000s to 2030 and sustained through the century will likely reduce global temperature rise about 0.17°C in 2100.” (If, as empirical studies increasingly indicate, CO2’s warming effect is actually only about half as much as the IPCC’s best guesstimate---about 1.5°C per doubled CO2 concentration instead of 3.0°C---then that temperature reduction will be only about 0.085°C.)

The cost? As reported by Bloomberg, the International Energy Agency estimates about $16.5 Trillion from now to 2040, i.e., about $660 Billion per year. (It seems safe to assume that costs will continue proportionally through the remainder of the century, i.e., for another 60 years, for a total of $56.1 Trillion.)

Chew on that for a minute: 0.17°C for $16.5 Trillion.

If additional degree increments could be bought at the same price, it would cost the world a mere $97 Trillion to reduce GAT by a full 1.0°C in 2100.

What else could that $97 Trillion do? Oh, among other things, get purified drinking water to all the people who don’t have it---and electricity, and sewage sanitation, and better education, health care, and transportation. You don’t suppose those would improve people’s health more than a 0.17°C reduction in global, average temperature (which no one experiences), do you?

But the Greenies will keep demanding that we do our part. We, we greedy Americans, who after all are the primary villains in the global warming drama, because we have the world’s biggest economy and drive the most SUVs and .... You get the idea.

Okay, so what impact could we have on GAT by reducing our CO2 emissions?

Meeting America’s “commitment” in the Paris treaty (which President Obama, to avoid certain defeat if he submitted it to the Senate for ratification as the Constitution requires, says is only a nonbinding agreement, not a treaty, though it meets all legal requirements of one) would cost about $2.5 Trillion in lost GDP by 2035, with proportional costs continuing for the rest of the century.

For that $2.5 Trillion (plus), Lomborg reports, “US climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by” ... drum roll ... “0.031°C (0.057°F) by 2100.”

And, as the Handy-Dandy Carbon Tax Temperature-Savings Calculator devised by climate scientists Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger (using only assumptions and models the IPCC accepts) shows, you could eliminate all U.S. CO2 emissions---yes, all, as in 100%---and still not reduce GAT in 2100 by more than 0.173°C by 2100. Meanwhile, you’d have driven all Americans back into prehistoric times, with all the attendant misery. (See the table below for results of calculations for four different climate sensitivities and five different emission reduction scenarios for the U.S. and all industrialized [OECD] countries.)

How do you spell “B-A-D D-E-A-L”?

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