The MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change applied its model to the seven bills to determine how costs associated with each might affect the domestic economy. While the program does not endorse any individual bill, the analysis could lend insight into potential climate consequences and the rough effects on prices and consumers, said Henry Jacoby, co-director of the joint program and a professor of management.
"The objective of the assessment is to help policy-makers move toward a consensus," he said.
The current proposals span a wide range of future emissions targets for the country. The Bingaman-Specter and Udall-Petri bills, for instance, would keep U.S. emissions near current levels, while others sponsored by McCain-Lieberman, Kerry-Snowe, Waxman and Sanders-Boxer call for emissions reductions of 50 to 80 percent below the 1990 level by 2050.
"All of these bills would substantially reduce United States GHG emissions from what they would be if nothing were done and would, if other countries follow suit, substantially reduce the risk of very serious climate change," said John M. Reilly, associate director for research for the joint program.
The MIT model predicts that if no action is taken, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will double by 2050, with global levels growing even faster and continuing to rise for the rest of the century. Global temperatures would rise by 3.5 degrees to 4.5 degrees above current levels by 2100. "The more ambitious of the Congressional proposals could limit this increase to around 2 degrees Centigrade, but only if other nations, including developing nations, also strongly control greenhouse gas emissions," Jacoby said.
The MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change conducts interdisciplinary research and independent policy analysis of global environmental issues.
One of its tools, the MIT Integrated Global System Model (IGSM), simulates global environmental changes linked to human activities, the uncertainties associated with these projected changes and the effect of proposed policies on such changes. IGSM and its main economic component, the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis model, were applied to the seven proposals.
The various proposals include a variety of measures that would limit greenhouse gases. Many feature a mandatory cap-and-trade system that would cover all or most sectors of the economy.
In such a system, the government sets a mandatory cap on total emissions from polluters such as power plants and industrial and commercial firms. The emissions are then divided up into individual credits-usually for one ton of pollution-that represent the right to emit that amount.
The total amount of credits cannot exceed the cap, limiting total emissions to that level. Companies that pollute beyond their allowances must buy credits from those who pollute less than their allowances or face heavy penalties. The government might distribute credits to companies for free or auction them, but in either case companies are allowed to buy or sell credits among themselves.
The cost of meeting the proposed targets for the most stringent of the proposals would be equivalent to losing somewhat less than a year of economic growth through mid-century, Jacoby said. The proposals would increase the price of carbon dioxide to $30 to $50 per ton in 2015, rising to $120 to $210 by 2050.
"These CO2 prices would be reflected as higher prices for fossil fuels, providing an incentive for alternative fuels and improved efficiency," Reilly said. "The value of the emissions permits-the resulting government revenue if the credits were auctioned rather than distributed for free-would range between $100 billion and $500 billion a year."
Given the need to cap carbon dioxide emissions, the scale of required changes in the energy system could be dramatic. Even with strong growth in renewable electricity, by 2050, projections reveal a need for as many as 500 new nuclear power plants or new coal-fired generators that capture and store the carbon dioxide to meet growing electricity demand and to replace existing fossil fuel consumption.
"Squeezing the emissions out of our cars over the next few decades is projected to come through a huge expansion in biofuels production with likely effects on the cost of food," Reilly said.
"These results represent one plausible scenario of the potential outcomes, valuable not for the precise numerical estimates but for insights about the general direction of changes in the economy, the potential climate consequences of different emission paths and the rough magnitude of the effects to be expected on prices and the well-being of consumers," Jacoby said.
The joint program study can be found at http://web.mit.edu/globalchange/www/MITJPSPGC_Rpt146.pdf.
Elizabeth A. Thomson | MIT News Office
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy