Washington: A faulty analytical model is behind the US government`s underestimating the costs of carbon pollution, says an economic expert.
A more appropriate accounting of costs would pave the way to cleaner, more economically efficient sources of power generation, suggests Laurie Johnson, chief economist in the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defence Council.
"This is a wake-up call for America to start aggressively investing in low carbon sources of energy. The very real economic benefits will accrue quickly and increase over time," Johnson was quoted as saying in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.
"With approximately 40 percent of all carbon emissions in the US coming from power plants, the economic advantages of clean electricity sources are significant," she said, according to a Natural Resource statement.
Johnson, who co-authored the study with Chris Hope of Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, said: "The model used by the government is incomplete because it all but ignores the economic damages that climate change will inflict on future generations."
"It turns out that the price we now pay for energy is much higher than what shows up on our electric bills or the tab at the gas pump," said Johnson.
Supplementary analysis by one of the co-authors shows even greater gains from replacing existing coal plants with new wind and solar photovoltaic, or with new fossil fuel generation that has carbon capture and storage technology.
The country`s existing coal fleet accounts for approximately 36 percent of all US CO2 emissions and is responsible for virtually all power-sector sulphur dioxide emissions, which cause thousands of premature deaths every year, respiratory problems, heart disease, and a number of ecosystem damages.