Reports

  • 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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  • The Social Cost of Carbon Initative

    Researchers in this initiative are leading a team of distinguished economists and scientists to improve the science behind estimates of the social cost of carbon—the means by which the US federal government, state governments, and foreign governments account for climate change in their actions—through a process that ensures the highest levels of scientific quality and transparency and builds the scientific foundation for future estimates.

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  • Making the Most of Distributed Energy Resources: Subregional Estimates of the Environmental Value of Distributed Energy Resources in the United States

    Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), like rooftop solar and battery storage, have the potential to generate significant social benefits by displacing pollution-emitting electricity generators. Accurately compensating DERs for this environmental and public health value, which some regulators and experts call the “E-Value,” is imperative for making the most out of DERs’ potential.

    This report provides a new set of hourly E-Values for the whole United States, broken down into 19 subregions, using an open-source reduced-order dispatch model. The patterns uncovered by these estimates can help policymakers design economically efficient DER policies to reduce air pollution from electricity generators.

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  • SOCIAL COST OF CARBON: Identifying a Federal Entity to Address the National Academies’ Recommendations Could Strengthen Regulatory Analysis

    This report examines, among other objectives: (1) how the federal government’s current estimates of the social cost of carbon compare to its prior estimates and (2) how the federal government plans to address the recommendations of the National Academies. GAO reviewed executive orders, OMB guidance, and regulatory impact analyses and interviewed OMB, EPA, NHTSA, and BLM officials and staff who had conducted such analyses. GAO recommends that OMB identify a federal entity responsible for addressing the National Academies’ recommendations.

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  • Pipeline Approvals and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    In light of growing public awareness of the environmental effects of pipeline projects, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has faced competing pressures regarding how to balance the need for new natural gas pipelines with their environmental consequences. Concerns about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and resulting climate change effects have become a flashpoint in the debate. Our report examines the legal context surrounding FERC’s evaluation of the environmental impacts of proposed interstate natural gas pipelines. We look at FERC’s obligations under the Natural Gas Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as potential improvements the agency can make to its analyses to better inform policy makers and the public about the impacts of proposed projects.

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