The Number With the Power to Halt the Climate Crisis
Wonky as it sounds, the social cost of carbon holds the key to crafting policies that avoid harm from greenhouse gas emissions.The current SCC estimates omit various impacts that would likely increase damages, such as more frequent wildfires and large-scale migration in response to climate change. The Climate Impact Lab, a collaboration of the University of Chicago, the Rhodium Group and other U.S.research institutions, is tapping the power of big data to fully account for important and often interrelated effects of climate change. For example, a 2018 Climate Impact Lab report showed that, based on current emissions trends, 1.5 million more people than previously estimated would die annually from the effects of climate change by 2100. In a recent policy brief, The Institute for Policy Integrity (IPI), a New York City-based think tank sponsored by the New York University School of Law that advocates for sound cost-benefit analysis in government, argues that the inherent uncertainty of SCC estimates calls for stronger, not weaker, action to combat climate change; policymakers should risk erring on the high side when counting the cost of carbon.
William Pizer, Matthew Adler, Joseph Aldy, David Anthoff, Maureen Cropper, Kenneth Gillingham, Michael Greenstone, Brian Murray, Richard Newell, Richard Richels, Arden Rowell, Stephanie Waldhoff, Jonathan Wiener, “Using and improving the social cost of carbon,” Science,
The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a crucial tool for economic analysis of climate policies. The SCC estimates the dollar value of reduced climate change damages associated with a one-metric-ton reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Although the conceptual basis, challenges, and merits of the SCC are well established, its use in government cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is relatively new. In light of challenges in constructing the SCC, its newness in government regulation, and the importance of updating, we propose an institutional process for regular SCC review and revision when used in government policy-making and suggest how scientists might contribute to improved SCC estimates.
Under the Trump administration, federal agencies are no longer required to determine the financial costs of climate change, so a group of scientists have stepped up to the plate. Marketplace reports on our project and what it can tell us…