The social cost of atmospheric release

Published

Journal Article

© 2015, The Author(s). I present a multi-impact economic valuation framework called the Social Cost of Atmospheric Release (SCAR) that extends the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) used previously for carbon dioxide (CO2) to a broader range of pollutants and impacts. Values consistently incorporate health impacts of air quality along with climate damages. The latter include damages associated with aerosol-induced hydrologic cycle changes that lead to net climate benefits when reducing cooling aerosols. Evaluating a 1 % reduction in current global emissions, benefits with a high discount rate are greatest for reductions of co-emitted products of incomplete combustion (PIC), followed by sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and then CO2, ammonia and methane. With a low discount rate, benefits are greatest for PIC, with CO2 and SO2 next, followed by NOx and methane. These results suggest that efforts to mitigate atmosphere-related environmental damages should target a broad set of emissions including CO2, methane and aerosol/ozone precursors. Illustrative calculations indicate environmental damages are $330-970 billion yr−1 for current US electricity generation (~14–34¢ per kWh for coal, ~4–18¢ for gas) and $3.80 (−1.80/+2.10) per gallon of gasoline ($4.80 (−3.10/+3.50) per gallon for diesel). These results suggest that total atmosphere-related environmental damages plus generation costs are much greater for coal-fired power than other types of electricity generation, and that damages associated with gasoline vehicles substantially exceed those for electric vehicles.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shindell, DT

Published Date

  • May 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 130 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 313 - 326

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-1480

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0165-0009

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10584-015-1343-0

Citation Source

  • Scopus