About this Site
The social cost of greenhouse gases (SC-GHG) is an economic tool that measures the societal cost—in dollars—from each ton of climate pollution. This site highlights some of the most significant efforts to incorporate the SC-GHG in policymaking across the United States, so that decisionmakers, advocates, and other stakeholders better understand new ways to advance progress on climate change.
Major economic models of climate damages were developed in the 1990s. Owing to these estimates, the federal government’s Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (IWG) released its first SC-GHG estimates in 2010. These official IWG SC-GHG estimates have been updated over time, most recently in 2021. The IWG's technical support documents can be found on the Resources page of this website.
The IWG’s SC-GHG has been used in over 100 federal actions, including regulations and environmental impact statements, in an effort to internalize climate effects into agency decisionmaking process. Many states now also use the IWG SC-GHG.
Although the IWG’s valuations relied on the best science available at the time of their initial development in 2010, they are now widely recognized to understate the true costs of climate change. For instance, the IWG estimates omit many important climate impacts, such as the increased risk of wildfire and the risk of climate tipping points.
In November 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency released updated draft estimates that apply the latest science and economics. Unsurprisingly, given developing science and economics, EPA’s draft estimates are substantially higher than IWG’s. EPA’s estimates are currently undergoing peer review and have not been finalized.
About the Institute for Policy Integrity
The Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law has been at the forefront of advocating for the use of the social cost of greenhouse gases in policymaking. Staff members at the institute have published extensive research on the SC-GHG and engaged in dozens of policy proceedings to encourage its proper use in regulations, environmental impact statements, and a variety of policies. More detail about our work on the SC-GHG and numerous other issues can be found at policyintegrity.org.
The Institute for Policy Integrity is a non‐partisan think tank dedicated to improving the quality of government decisionmaking through advocacy and scholarship in the fields of administrative law, economics, and public policy.