Social Cost of Carbon

The Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) is frequently termed "the most important number that you've never heard of." The SCC is intended to represent the economic damages associated with emitting a ton of CO2 (or CO2 equivalent). The SCC is a $ value that could in principle easily translate into a carbon price – and one with an arguably analytical foundation.

The Social Cost of Carbon is important to a lot of federal decision-making under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but has increasingly been looked to by states as a way to quantify climate damages as part of state-based decision-making.

The Trump Administration eviscerated the SCC by implementing methodological changes to its calculation, and the Biden Administration will certainly revisit the SCC early on. It would be easy to return the SCC to its pre-Trump levels, but it would be a lot more impactful if the Biden Administration were to consider developing a "risk-averse" as opposed to "risk-neutral" SCC. A "risk-averse" SCC would recognize that climate change is an that can only be run once and that can’t be reversed.

It's beyond the scope of this micro-site to dig into a topic as large and complex as the Social Cost of Carbon, but you can do so easily in the Climate Web itself. For example: