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Providing Insight
Into Climate Change

Climate Sensitivity, Agricultural Productivity and the Social Cost of Carbon in FUND

This paper by Dayaratna, McKtrick & Michaels evaluates the implications of recent empirical findings about CO2 fertilization and climate sensitivity on the social cost of carbon (SCC) in the FUND economic model. New satellite and experimental evidence suggests that the agricultural productivity gains due to CO2 fertilization are at least 30% greater than what is parameterized in the FUND economic model. The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) probability distributions used are from the Lewis & Curry 2018 (L&C) and Christy & McNider 2017 (C&M) empirical studies, which gives ECS best estimates of 1.5 °C and 1.4 °C, respectively. Using a 5% discount rate, the 30% increase of CO2 fertilization and L&C ECS parameters, the FUND model calculates a best estimate SCC in 2020 of 2018US$-4.08/tCO2 and there is a 0.78 probability that SCC is negative.

Solar and Wind Power Cost about 9 times That of Electricity from Other Sources

Europe provides an example of what happens to electricity prices with increasing levels of wind and solar installed capacity per person. The plot below shows the average 2017 residential cost of electrical power against the installed capacity of solar and wind power per capita in each country. Germany, with 1144 W/capita of installed solar plus wind capacity in 2017, generated only 25.8% of its electricity from solar and wind. The best-fit line implies that the effective average solar and wind electricity costs in Europe are 9.2 times that of electricity from other sources, mainly fossil fuels. The resulting high electricity costs in countries with high installed solar and wind capacity is severely harming the economies of those countries. Industries that require large amounts of electric power are moving to less efficient countries which reduces wealth and increases global CO2 emissions.

Economic Impact of Energy Consumption Change Caused by Global Warming

This paper by Peter Land and Ken Gregory tests the validity of the FUND model’s energy impact functions. Empirical data of energy expenditure and average temperatures of the US states and census divisions are compared with projections using the energy impact functions with non-temperature drivers held constant at their 2010 values. The empirical data indicates that energy expenditure decreases as temperatures increase, suggesting that global warming may reduce US energy expenditure and thereby have a positive impact on US economic growth. If FUND projections for the non-energy impact sectors are valid, 3 °C of global warming from 2000 would increase global economic growth.

The Private Benefit of Carbon Dioxide and its Social Cost

Economist Dr. Richard Tol calculates that the global average private benefit of the use of fossil fuel at the margin (ie., the benefit of the last unit used) is about US2010$411/tCO2. It is the weighted average of the price of energy times the carbon dioxide emission coefficient. The private benefit is lowest for coal use in industry (US$47/tCO2) and highest for residential electricity (US$1,877/tCO2 from Results, or US$780/tCO2 from Table 1). Affordable and reliable energy is a great good, which is why we purchase it. The mean of published estimates of the social cost of CO2 is $12/tCO2 assuming a 3% pure rate of time preference and the IPCC distribution of climate sensitivity. The FUND model calculates a net social benefit of $3.30/tCO2 assuming a climate sensitivity distribution from Lewis & Curry 2915 and a 3% discount rate. The marginal private benefit of fossil fuels is at least 123 times the social cost.

Climate Science and Economics

Strong correlations between solar activity and climate indicate and the recent grand maximum of solar activity indicates that much of the warming of the 20th century was natural. Climate models do not include most natural climate change and they are now running much to hot. Bulk atmosphere temperature trends are 2.5 times the measurements. The CO2 induced warming from 2018 to 2100 may be only 0.6 °C. Some economic models of climate change fail to include benefits of warming and CO2 fertilization of plants. Cold kills 17 times as many as hot weather, so warming will reduce temperature related deaths. The Alberta climate plan will increase cumulative electricity costs to 2030 by $3.3 to $5.9 billion. Warming may benefit the world by US$ 3 trillion/yr by 2100.

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