U.S. emissions reductions may be cheaper than thought.

AuthorHerro, Alana

For years, the United States has resisted mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions because of the perceived cost. But a new report suggests that significantly reducing U.S. carbon emissions could cost far less than the trillions of dollars some have projected. McKinsey & Co., a privately owned management consulting firm, concludes that making substantial emissions cuts may cost the economy only a few billion dollars, and that at least 40 percent of the reductions would actually bring economic savings.

Some reports do predict heavy costs associated with reducing emissions. In November, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that a new bill to restrict emissions being debated in Congress would cost 3.4 million Americans their jobs. And William Nordhaus of Yale University has calculated that slowing global warming would cost US$20 trillion.

But the McKinsey report argues that with a longterm model, costs are much lower. The study finds that the United States could reduce its projected emissions in 2030 by 3.0-4.5 gigatons using technology that is largely in place. "Eighty percent of the reductions come from technology that exists...

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