(OTTAWA) The economic cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is nearly five times higher than previously thought, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Wednesday.

The minister told attendees of a climate change conference in Ottawa that the government has used updated science and economic models to revise how it assesses the cost of climate change to Canadians.

The new figures have been in the works for months, but they follow a recent report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer on the economic costs of pricing carbon. This report did not specifically equate the cost of the price of carbon with the cost of climate change itself.

“The social cost of carbon updates just show that every ton of greenhouse gases is costing the economy more,” Guilbeault said at the Net Zero Leadership Summit.

The idea is that increased emissions contribute more to global warming, and that each increase in global average temperatures can increase the number and severity of extreme weather events.

More than seven years ago, an analysis estimated that the cost would be around $54 per tonne in 2020. Guilbeault said the updated model suggests that figure is actually closer to $247.

This year it is even higher, at $261 per tonne of emissions, and by 2030 it will reach $294.

“Stop for a moment to understand what this means,” Mr. Guilbeault said.

Between 2005 — the year Canada uses as the baseline for its 2030 emissions targets — and 2021, Canada eliminated 62 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Based on the new social cost of carbon, this equates to savings of nearly $10 billion.

However, this figure does not include an estimate of the cost of disposing of these 62 million tonnes. The price of carbon in 2021 was $40 per ton, and it will increase to $170 per ton in 2030.

Last year, a federal analysis of regulations aimed at reducing emissions from gasoline and diesel indicated that the cost of this policy was about $151 per ton.

In 2017, the Ecofiscal Commission of Canada estimated the cost of the Quebec subsidy for electric vehicles at around $355 per tonne. Most provinces and the federal government now have some form of electric vehicle subsidy.

By 2030, Canada aims to phase out at least an additional 231 million tonnes. This would save 68 billion in emissions, but there are no direct comparisons to illustrate the cost of such a target.

Canada has implemented dozens of other policies aimed at achieving this goal, including phasing out coal-fired electricity, developing renewable electricity, banning the sale of cars to gasoline and capping emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Recent analysis of carbon pricing by the Parliamentary Budget Officer indicates that government climate rebates outweigh the direct cost of carbon pricing for most families, but when costs are taken into account economics, such as declining incomes or job losses, many families may have less money in 2030 than they would have without carbon pricing.

Guilbeault and others have criticized the report for failing to make explicit that climate change itself is contributing to job losses and declining incomes.

The social cost of carbon analysis is being done in concert with the US Environmental Protection Agency, which released its draft values ​​last year but is still reviewing them before releasing a final version. Canada released its final figures on Wednesday.