Study: GHG cuts come with high costs

Source: BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico • Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2020

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dropped 18 percent from March 15 to June 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to researchers at Rhodium Group. Researchers also found that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases could see a lower growth trajectory through the end of the decade because of the health crisis.

The analysis found greenhouse gas emissions will likely be 6 to 12 percent below pre-Covid-19 projections through the end of the year, amounting to “the largest annual drop in GHG emissions in recorded history.” Through 2030, emissions could fall between 2 to 12 percent relative to the pre-pandemic baseline.

But those declines come at huge economic cost , Rhodium said. “The emission reductions associated with our scenarios, while sizeable, are certainly no cause for cheer. The economic damage and human suffering of COVID-19 has already been substantial and will likely continue for some time,” the report said.

Rhodium noted the high economic costs associated with the spring reduction in emissions, which it estimated at between $3,200 and $5,400 in lost economic activity per ton of reduced carbon dioxide depending on the speed of the nation’s economic recovery. That compares to about $11 to reduce each ton of CO2 under the Obama administration’s regulations for coal-fired power plants that were withdrawn by the Trump EPA.