Resources

  • Comments Supporting the Widespread Usage and Recommending Updates to the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (Docket No. OMB-2021- 0006-0001)

    Earlier this year, the Biden administration reestablished the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases. Its first move was to discard the Trump administration’s flawed social cost values, which significantly understated the per-ton climate damages of greenhouse gas emissions. The Working Group published interim values, based on Obama-era estimates, and is now working to revise those values by January 2022 to incorporate the latest science and economics.

    In addition to our own comment letter and reports, Policy Integrity collaborated with nine partner organizations to submit joint comments that, among other recommendations, encourage the Working Group to:

    -endorse the broad application of the social cost of greenhouse gas values in all relevant decisions and processes;
    -bolster the justifications for focusing on global damage estimates; and
    -apply lower discount rates below the current range

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  • Policy Integrity Comments to the Office of Management and Budget on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

    Earlier this year, the Biden administration reestablished the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases. Its first move was to discard the Trump administration’s flawed social cost values, which significantly understated the per-ton climate damages of greenhouse gas emissions. The Working Group published interim values, based on Obama-era estimates, and is now working to revise those values by January 2022 to incorporate the latest science and economics.

    As part of its process for revising the social cost of greenhouse gas values, the Working Group requested public input. We published and submitted five original reports on key issues, as well as a comment letter that summarizes the reports and offers several additional points for the Working Group’s consideration.

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  • Playing with Fire: Responding to Criticism of the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

    Federal agencies will need to offer considered and detailed responses to objections raised in the notice-and-comment processes for individual regulations or administrative actions that apply the Working Group’s social cost valuations. The Working Group should consider providing such responses now, and our report offers a blueprint for responding to objections being raised by opponents of climate regulation.

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  • Expert Elicitation and the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

    Researchers often formally elicit the views of subject-matter experts to help clarify consensus on complex or uncertain topics. Our report highlights several updates, incorporating data from expert elicitations, that the Working Group should consider as it works to improve the social cost of greenhouse gases.

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  • About Time: Recalibrating the Discount Rate for the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

    Nearly two decades have passed since the federal government holistically reviewed its broader choice of discount rates for analyzing agency actions. We highlight the new data and literature that strongly point toward the need for lower discount rates, and recommend a declining discount rate schedule that would achieve a more consistent approach.

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  • Strategically Estimating Climate Pollution Costs in a Global Environment

    Debate has reemerged about whether federal agencies’ policy analyses should focus on climate pollution costs that will occur only within U.S. borders, rather than on the full global valuation of climate damages. We encourage the Working Group to focus on global estimates—but also provide robust domestic-only valuations as a backstop for future estimates of climate costs.

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  • Broadening the Use of the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases in Federal Policy

    While federal agencies and U.S. states have on occasion applied the social cost of greenhouse gas valuations to other areas, agency use of these valuations outside of regulatory cost-benefit analysis has been somewhat sporadic and limited. We highlight a number of areas in which the federal government should expand its application of the social cost of greenhouse gases.

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  • Gauging Economic Consensus on Climate Change

    Thousands of economists have spent years or decades studying the interaction between climate change and the economic systems that underlie modern life. The views of these experts can help clarify how climate change will likely affect our society and economy, and how policymakers should approach greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts.

    We conducted a large-sample global survey on climate economics, which we sent to all economists who have published climate-related research in the field’s highest-ranked academic journals; 738 responded. To our knowledge, this is the largest-ever expert survey on the economics of climate change. The results show an overwhelming consensus that the costs of inaction on climate change are higher than the costs of action, and that immediate, aggressive emissions reductions are economically desirable.

    Respondents expressed striking levels of concern about climate impacts; estimated major climate-related GDP losses and a reduction in long-term economic growth; and predicted that climate impacts will exacerbate economic inequality both between countries and within most countries. The economists surveyed also expressed optimism about the viability and affordability of many zero-emissions technologies. And they widely agreed that aggressive targets to reach net-zero emissions by midcentury were likely to be cost-benefit justified.

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  • Technical Support Document: Social Cost of Carbon, Methane, and Nitrous Oxide - Interim Estimates under Executive Order 13990

    The Interagency Working Group (IWG) on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, recently reconvened under the auspices of Executive Order 13990, released a new technical support document with interim estimates on the social costs of carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide. According to the new document, released on February 26, 2021, the IWG guides agencies to revert to the four sets of values based on three discount rates (2.5%, 3%, and 5%) as were used from 2010 through 2016, which had been subject to public comment. The IWG notes that new data and evidence strongly suggests that the appropriate discount rate for intergenerational considerations is lower.

    The estimates in the new technical support document are reported in 2020 dollars, but are otherwise identical to those presented in the most recent previous version of the technical support document and its addendum. The ‘central’ 3% estimates for carbon dioxide emissions occurring in year 2025 is $56 per metric ton. The ‘central’ estimates for year 2025 methane and nitrous oxide emissions are $1700 and $21,000, respectively.

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  • Benefit-Cost Analysis Guidance for Discretionary Grant Programs

    This document is intended to provide applicants to USDOT’s discretionary grant programs with guidance on completing a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) for submittal as part of their application. A BCA provides estimates of the anticipated benefits that are expected to accrue from a project over a specified period and compares them to the anticipated costs of the project. While BCA is just one of many tools that can be used in making decisions about infrastructure investments, USDOT believes that it provides a useful benchmark from which to evaluate and compare potential transportation investments for their contribution to the economic vitality of the Nation.

    This guidance: Describes an acceptable methodological framework for purposes of preparing BCAs for discretionary grant applications; Identifies common data sources, values of key parameters, and additional reference materials for various BCA inputs and assumptions; Provides sample calculations of some of the quantitative elements of a BCA.

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