Populations and livelihoods—mostly in developing countries—will suffer as average global temperatures continue to rise. This is according to a study, conducted by the humanitarian organization DARA, which found climate change could cost the world more than $1.2 trillion annually and contribute to the deaths of more than 100 million people if action against climate change isn’t taken. Together, the cost of air pollution and climate change could rise to 3.2 percent of the global GDP by 2030, with developing countries suffering losses closer to 11 percent. Timothy B. Lee at Forbes argues that “lazy” reporting on the study has conflated deaths from traditional air pollution and those from climate change. A close reading of the study, he said, suggests that climate change alone would only kill about 12 million people. “Now obviously 12 million deaths is still a lot,” Lee says. “If the rest of their calculations pan out, that’s still a good argument for taking action on climate change.”
Meanwhile, two House Democrats, Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, have released a report highlighting the recording-breaking weather events of 2012 to try and build congressional momentum to address climate change. Its release, Think Progress reports, comes at a time “when political resistance to climate action is at an all-time high and both political candidates avoid speaking openly on the issue,” despite polls showing that some voters want more action on climate. A Nature editorial argues that if President Obama wins a second term, he will need to “take on the political opposition and … [lay] out a clear vision for the future” for how to deal with climate change.
Meanwhile, the ubiquitous battle between media outlets over bias in coverage has not ignored the climate issue. Fox News’ and the Wall Street Journal’s opinion sections are under fire for what others characterize as misleading coverage of climate change. Media Matters runs down a list of 10 leading scientists’ public criticisms of Fox News coverage the last two years and offers guidance on navigating the misinformation.
EU Airlines Bill Passes, While Debate on Carbon Tax Continues
A bill shielding United States airlines from participating in the European Union’s (EU) emission reduction scheme was passed unanimously by the Senate, although it has yet to be reconciled with a similar House proposal. The EU scheme, which went into effect in early 2012, was projected by MIT to add between $3 and $6 to the cost of a flight bound from New York to London. Under the bill, all airlines flying in and out of European airports would be required to cut emissions or purchase allowances to cover them in order to curb emissions 20 percent by 2020. While the Senate vote would block U.S. airlines from complying, an amendment added to the bill requires that the ruling be reconsidered if the EU changes its plan or the U.S. introduces its own measures.
While some have found a carbon tax to curb emissions to be risky—claiming that it could be potentially damaging to the economy—a new report says imposing a $20 per metric ton carbon tax in the U.S. has the potential to reduce the country’s budget deficit by half in roughly a decade.
The Fate of Wind Energy
Wind power makes up roughly 3 percent of all electricity produced in the United States. In Washington, city government is now running 100 percent on wind. Sam Brooks, head of Washington’s Energy and Sustainability Division, says the district buys about $52 million of electricity each year—enough to power about 90,000 homes.
As the Dec. 31 cut off for tax credits tied to wind turbines looms, the New York Times says the wind industry is “withering.” Ed Dolan calls wind power a “success story of green energy.” In his blog, EconoMonitor, he urges decision makers to rethink energy and tax policy as the subsidy deadline grows near. Others aren’t in agreement, and see the tax credits’ potential expiration as a step toward reducing the deficit.
The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.