Climate Change

US, China and India: Top carbon emitters to face the biggest economic losses

India, which emits more than 2.4 billion metric tonnes of CO2, is already bearing an economic loss of $206 billion

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 28 September 2018
Photo: iStock__

Carbon emission comes at a cost, and the US will pay the heaviest price. According to a new research published in the scientific journal, Nature Climate Change, after the US, India will experience the highest economic loss due to its carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by 2020.

The study—which is a collaborative effort of researchers from University of California, Carnegie Institution for Science and RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment (EIEE)—highlights that the Saudi Arabia, another heavy emitter, also stands to lose significantly. Just like the US, it will contribute 11 per cent to the global social cost of carbon (SCC).

China, being one of the world’s largest CO2 emitters, is likely to incur a relatively lesser cost than the US but higher than India.

The study claims that it is for the first time a data set has been developed by researchers to quantify country-level contributions to SCC, which is a measure of the damages from CO2 emissions for at least 169 countries across the globe.

Data source: Author provided

India’s country-level social cost of carbon emission was estimated to be the highest at $86 per tonne of CO2. It means the Indian economy will lose $86 by emitting each additional tonne of CO2. India is followed by the US, where the economic damages would be $48 per tonne of CO2 emission. Saudi Arabia is close behind at $47 per tonne of CO2 emission.

Northern Europe, Canada and the Former Soviet Union have negative SCC values because their current temperatures are below the economic optimum.

Calculating the economic loss

India, which emits more than 2.4 billion metric tonnes of CO2, is already bearing an economic loss of $206 billion, which is close to 10 per cent of its GDP. Owing to its higher rate of CO2 emission (5.3 billion metric tonnes), US is losing more than $254 billion given that the economic cost of per tonne of CO2 emission is $48. China’s economy is also suffering a massive setback worth $243.6.

To estimate country-level contributions to the SCC, the researchers used recent climate model projections, empirical climate-driven economic damage estimations and socio-economic projections.

Why is the study important?

The reasons are more than one. Mapping country-level contributions to SCC or domestic impacts can help in quantifying “non-cooperative behaviour”, and thus understanding “the determinants of international cooperation”. According to the researchers of this latest study, “Country-level estimates can also allow us to better understand regional impacts, which are important for adaptation and compensation measures.” Moreover, a micro-level estimation of climate damage and benefits can impact estimates of net global climate damage and its sensitivity to socio-economic drivers.

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