Clean Energy Wins - Powering Pennsylvania's 21st century economy

Limit Costs Related to Climate Change

Weather related events:

      • Extreme weather records are being broken across the country, with over 3,500 monthly new weather records being set in 2012. In Pennsylvania, over 62 events broke extreme weather records in 2012, including 21 new record high heat levels in 12 counties, and 36 new high rainfall records in 21 counties.[1]
      • The cost of doing nothing on climate change should be considered. Along with health concerns from pollutant exposure, the cost of climate-change related economic disruption continues to grow. This means increased costs to taxpayers, such as the more than $60 billion in federal disaster relief aid provided for Superstorm Sandy, or the more than $764 million in state spending from 2011 and 2012.[2]
      • According to a peer-reviewed paper authored by researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Center for Atmospheric Research, there are increasing trends in both the annual frequency of billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events and in the annual aggregate loss from these events. Their study examined data from 1980 – 2011 found this trend amounts to a 5 percent per year increase in the frequency of billion-dollar disasters, and they further believe that this is likely an underestimation of average loss.[3]

  Social Cost of Carbon:

      • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies use the social cost of carbon (SCC) to estimate the climate benefits of various rulemakings. The SCC is an estimate of the economic damages associated with a small increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, conventionally one metric ton, in a given year. This dollar figure also represents the value of damages avoided for a small emission reduction (i.e. the benefit of a CO2 reduction).
      • The SCC is meant to be a comprehensive estimate of climate change damages and includes, but is not limited to, changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, and property damages from increased flood risk. Due to lack of precise information, the SCC does not currently include all of the important physical, ecological and economic impacts of climate change. The IPCC notes that the SCC very likely underestimates the damages.
      • EPA estimates the SCC to be between as low as $12 per ton in 2015, to as high as $235 per ton in 2050. More information on these costs can be found here.
      • Pennsylvania lawmakers do not currently factor in the SCC when analyzing rulemakings.

  Examples:

  • Wind power installed in Pennsylvania will avoid over 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of taking 365,000 cars off of the road.[4]
  • Increasing Pennsylvania’s renewable energy requirement (via the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard) from 8 percent to 15 percent renewable energy by 2023 would result in a cumulative equivalent of taking over 4 million cars off the road, or avoiding the use of over 2 billion gallons of gasoline.

 


[1]
                   NRDC, Extreme Weather Map 2012, located at http://www.nrdc.org/health/extremeweather/default.asp

[2]
                   Center for American Progress, “States of Denial: States with the Most Federal Disaster Aid Sent Climate Science Deniers to Congress,” September 12, 2013. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/report/2013/09/12/73895/states-of-denial-states-with-the-most-federal-disaster-aid-sent-climate-science-deniers-to-congress-2/

[3]
                   Smith, A., and R. Katz, 2013: U.S. Billion-dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Data Sources, Trends, Accuracy and Biases. Natural Hazards, DOI 10.1007/s11069-013-0566-5. http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/papers/smith-and-katz-2013.pdf

[4]
                   American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Pennsylvania State Fact Sheet, 2011 http://awea.rd.net/Resources/state.aspx?ItemNumber=5188