Keeping CO2 Emissions from Rising Would Be Costless

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Wednesday, 01 May 2013 04:28

Brad Plummer has a useful post showing that with current policy in place we can keep CO2 emissions constant over the next three decades. The piece notes that this would be inadequate to prevent dangerous levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; for that we would need substantial reductions in emissions.

It is worth calling attention to one comment that may mislead readers. At one point the piece tells readers:

"Some of these measures [continuing current policy], such as re-upping the tax credits for clean energy, would require Congress. (And that wouldn’t be free; the recent one-year extension of the wind credit, for instance, will cost $1.2 billion per year for 10 years.)"

It's unlikely that many readers have a clear sense of how much money $1.2 billion a year is relative to the budget. Spending is projected to average more than $4.7 trillion a year over the next decade. This means that the extension of the clean energy credits would cost less than 0.03 percent of projected spending. This likely would provide more information to readers than the dollar amount.