Meeting the climate change goals proposed by President Barack Obama for the upcoming United Nations conference in Paris will cost $38 to $45 billion annually and reduce global temperatures by less than two-tenths of one degree, according to a report released Thursday.
The report, by the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute, calculated the costs of past and pending regulations the administration is planning to use to go around Congress to meet international goals to reduce carbon emissions.
"As the world meets in Paris at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Climate Change during the first two weeks in December, it is important to take note how the U.S. has already regulated greenhouse gases (GHGs)," the report, written by Sam Batkins, AAF’s director of regulatory policy, said. "According to American Action Forum (AAF) research, regulators have already imposed $26 billion in annual costs to limit GHGs and have proposed an additional $1.7 billion. However, to meet President Obama’s climate goals the nation will have to spend up to $45 billion more each year by 2025."
"What are the benefits of these investments? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, previous actions will avert a combined 0.0573 degrees Celsius of warming," Batkins continued. "Meeting the president’s 2025 goals could add reductions up to 0.125 degree Celsius."
"In other words, full achievement of the president’s climate goals will cost more than $73 billion in annual burdens to alleviate less than two-tenths of one degree of warming," he wrote.
If the president achieves his goals, global temperatures will be reduced by 0.1823 degrees.
The report noted that the Obama administration has issued 15 final regulations that relate to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, totaling more than 3,000 pages.
"The total cost from these 15 measures is $230 billion in net present value costs, more than $26 billion in annual burdens, and 2.9 million paperwork burden hours," AAF said.
The American Action Forum analyzed the costs of regulations already in place, which include CAFE standards for reducing car and truck emissions and rules for power plants.
President Obama’s plan submitted for the COP21 United Nations climate talks in Paris this December is based on regulatory action to work around the Republican-controlled Congress. The goal to reduce carbon emissions by an additional 1.2 billion tons by 2025 involves regulations already in the works, including the EPA’s "Clean Power Plan" targeting emissions from power plants.
Administration officials are banking on pushing through several regulations before Obama leaves office, to reduce the chances they can be undone by the next administration.
"We can achieve this goal using laws that are already on the books, and it will be in place by the time the president leaves office," said Brian Deese, Obama’s senior adviser on climate change, when the president’s plan was released in March.
"Undoing the kind of regulation we’re putting in place is very tough," added Todd Stern, the State Department’s chief envoy on climate change.
The report said that climate change rules have already been costly.
"After $28 billion in annual regulatory costs to address climate change, the U.S. is hardly finished if it wants to meet the president’s goals," the report concluded. "As much as $45 billion per year in regulatory burdens will likely be required to meet the 2025 benchmark, with just a 0.125-degree temperature reduction as a reward. As the U.S. approaches another round of climate negotiations, these figures demonstrate the American people have already shouldered a heavy burden to reduce emissions."