In the NewsWashington PostOctober 11, 2017

New EPA document reveals sharply lower estimate of the cost of climate change

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released a detailed 198-page proposed analysis of the costs and benefits of its move to repeal the Clean Power Plan, suggesting the administration plans to greatly decrease the government’s estimates of the cost of climate change. The “social cost of carbon” is a very influential figure that helps policymakers weigh the value of moves aimed at stopping climate change. If the social cost of carbon is lower, that shrinks the estimated benefits of such moves, making it more likely that policymakers will find those benefits not worth the costs. “My read is that the political decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan was made and then they did whatever was necessary to make the numbers work,” said Michael Greenstone, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who worked on climate policy during the Obama years, and co-director of the Lab. “My best guess is that it will be used to revisit other environmental rules and that the last several decades of environmental gains are at risk, with the payoff coming in lower costs for polluters.”