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Cutting emissions could cost trillions

| Thursday, March 16, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century could come at a great cost in treasure and jobs to Pennsylvania and the nation, according to a new report by an international economic consultant group.

The study, released Thursday and commissioned by the American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research, found that commitments made by former President Obama as part of the Paris climate accord could cost the country's economy $3 trillion and 6.5 million jobs by 2040.

The study by NERA Economic Consulting explores several scenarios by which the U.S. could reach emission pledges made in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The central scenario calculated the impact of additional regulatory actions across the country and in four states considered leaders in manufacturing — Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri.

By 2025, the study estimates a loss of 2.7 million jobs nationwide in all sectors; a $250 million reduction in gross domestic product, or GDP; and lower household incomes by $160.

The biggest industry losers would be in the production of cement, iron, steel and petroleum refining, which the study predicts would shed 1.1 million jobs.

In Pennsylvania, the GDP is expected to decline by 1.8 percent in 2025. The study further suggests a $1,000 drop in household income and the loss of 140,000 jobs, including 26,000 in manufacturing and industry.

“The hardest hit sectors (in Pennsylvania) would be iron, steel and cement production, with output declining by 16 and 15 percent respectively,” the report states.

Energy experts from academic institutions, think tanks and governmental organizations convened in Pittsburgh this week for a two-day conference on curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Speakers identified four technologies — renewable energy production, nuclear power, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage — that could propel the country to reach the goal.

No one at the conference questioned the notion that radical slashes in emissions is necessary, Pennsylvania Environmental Council President and CEO Davitt Woodwell said Thursday.

“But how we get there has been questioned,” he said.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1298 or dcarr@tribweb.com.

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