climate disruption tax

Fri, 2013-04-19 10:16Ben Jervey
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Video: Climate Reality Project on the True Price of Carbon

Remember the climate disruption tax? It’s the public cost, actually paid by American taxpayers, of climate-driven extreme weather events. For the first time, the smart economists and public policy thinkers out there are actually crunching numbers and putting forth some jaw-dropping costs of these droughts and floods and superstorms.

Last month, I wrote about a smart new term for these costs – the climate disruption tax – as introduced by NRDC’s Dan Lashof and Andy Stevenson

It’s a fancy and technical way of saying that there is a price of carbon emissions. A price that isn’t being paid on the front end by primary consumers of fossil fuels, and certainly isn’t being paid by the fossil fuel companies themselves. Rather, it’s paid by American taxpayers, no matter how responsible any particular individual is for the problem.

The good folks at the Climate Reality Project released a video, narrated by the great Reggie Watts, that illustrates these costs in a way that a bland old blog post never could. While the video doesn’t apply the “climate disruption tax” label specifically, the principle it’s talking about it one in the same. Check it out:

Thu, 2013-03-14 11:28Ben Jervey
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Climate Disruption Tax Costs Americans Billions

Here’s a term that bears repeating: climate disruption tax. What is a climate disruption tax? It’s the cost to the American taxpayer of dealing with the impacts of climate-related weather events, as introduced by NRDC’s Dan Lashof and Andy Stevenson.  

The concept of a climate disruption tax is actually hugely important. Why? Because climate change is costing us more than trying to avoid climate change ever would, but unfortunately, this troubling little bit of economics is somehow constantly overlooked in the climate debates. We always hear about how much it will cost to transition away from fossil fuels and to slow deforestation. But the costs of inaction rarely stick in the discussion.

It’s not for lack of research or knowledge, nor for lack of bloggers bringing it up. Over the past few years, a range of voices have weighed in with warnings from all across the socioeconomic and ideological spectra. If not quite first, but foremost, the master economist Sir Nicholas Stern sounded the alarm, only to recently double down on his dire predictions.

Then there are the massive insurers and even more massive reinsurers like Munich Re and Swiss Re. There are the , of course. There are NGOs and think tanks like DARA with a cold, hard economic calculus in their Climate Vulnerability Monitor. There are academics.There’s the U.S. government itself warning of the severe costs of unmitigated climate change.

These studies and reports are written about, blogged, tweeted, and sometimes cited, but they haven’t managed to nudge their way into the mainstream climate conversation. The costs often seem too far off, too theoretical–a problem for another time.

Which is why any clever new way of framing climate-related costs should be celebrated and spread far and why. Over on Switchboard, Lashof and Stevenson are onto something.

Say it with me again: Climate Disruption Tax.

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