Reports

  • How the Trump Administration Is Obscuring the Costs of Climate Change

    When federal and state policymakers account for the impacts of climate change, they regularly use a tool called the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). The SCC puts a dollar value on the most significant, quantifiable damages caused by each additional ton of carbon dioxide emitted. The most recent estimate of the cost is at least $51 per ton and rising over time. But now, turning its back on years of work, the Trump administration has disbanded the federal group that developed the SCC, and produced a new “interim” estimate claiming that each ton of carbon dioxide causes as little as $1 in climate damages. This issue brief describes how the Trump Administration reached this misleading number by ignoring the interconnected, global nature of our climate-vulnerable economy and obscuring the devastating effects that climate change will have on younger and future generations. Though the administration has been proposing rollbacks of environmental rules using this problematic SCC estimate as justification, we explain why federal agencies and state governments should continue using the most recent estimate by the Interagency Working Group that developed the SCC.

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  • The Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases and State Policy: A Frequently Asked Questions Guide

    States can benefit from using the social cost of greenhouse gases to aid in making rational policy decisions in a transparent manner. Many states are already using these metrics in their decisionmaking. This report provides information on several issues related to the social cost of greenhouse gases, including discount rates, time horizons, and the global nature of the estimate.

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  • Social Costs of Greenhouse Gases

    Scientific studies show that climate change will have, and in some cases has already had, severe consequences for society, like the spread of disease, increased food insecurity, and coastal destruction. The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a metric designed to quantify climate damages, representing the net economic cost of carbon dioxide emissions. Our issue brief on the Social Cost of Carbon details how this metric was developed and how it applies to federal regulatory policy.

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  • Coal Royalties: Historical Uses and Justifications

    On January 15, 2016, the Department of the Interior (Interior) announced that it would begin a comprehensive review to identify and evaluate potential reforms to the federal coal program. The review will analyze issues including leasing of public lands for mining; how to account for the environmental and public health impacts of federal coal production; and how to ensure American taxpayers are earning a fair return for the private use of these public resources.

    Royalties have been used as a policy lever to influence behavior and meet national goals for centuries. For example, royalties have been set at specific rates in order to: encourage resource production; encourage westward expansion; maintain the incentive to create new inventions; and deter socially undesirable behavior, to name just a few. In line with this finding, this report concludes that it would be reasonable for Interior to adjust coal royalty rates to account for negative externalities that are not otherwise addressed by regulation. Historical uses, accepted economic justifications, legislative history, and examples of royalty use by private actors and in other industries discussed in the paper all support the determination that it would be reasonable for Interior to increase coal royalty rates to account for externality costs and to better align the federal coal program with national climate change priorities.

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  • Expert Consensus on the Economics of Climate Change

    We surveyed a large sample of economists — everyone who published an article related to climate change in a highly ranked economics journal since 1994. The survey focused on estimated economic impacts from climate change and appropriate policy responses. The results revealed consensus that climate change damages could be more severe and more immediate than previously estimated. Respondents also expressed support for aggressive policy responses to address climate change.

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  • Flammable Planet: Wildfires and the Social Cost of Carbon

    Climate change is expected to make wildfires more frequent and intense, with new areas facing wildfire risk. This could take a serious toll on the U.S. economy by expanding the area that wildfires burn 50 percent by 2050—and raising projected damages by tens of billions of dollars a year. This report surveys the scientific and economic literature on wildfires and climate change, and provides the first estimate of the future economic costs of wildfires that will be magnified by climate change. Currently these costs are omitted from the government’s social cost of carbon estimate. Flammable Planet lays the groundwork for the future inclusion of wildfire costs in the models that underlie the social cost of carbon.

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  • Omitted Damages: What’s Missing From the Social Cost of Carbon

    Fires, flooding, and infectious diseases are some of the risks of a warming climate, and they would cost trillions of dollars to deal with. When carbon-reducing regulations are considered, $37 per ton is used to account for the public costs of rising temperatures. But too many serious risks of climate change have not yet been included in the government’s estimate. Omitted Damages: What’s Missing from the Social Cost of Carbon reviews cutting edge scientific and economic research to determine which serious climate effects are not properly incorporated into the “social cost of carbon” estimates.

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