Using and Improving the Social Cost of Carbon

Maureen Cropper, William Pizer, Matthew Adler, Joseph Aldy, David Anthoff, Kenneth Gillingham, Michael Greenstone, Brian Murray, Richard Newell, Richard Richels, Arden Rowell, Stephanie Waldhoff and Jonathan Wiener , Science 346(6214) , 1189-1190 , December 2014.

The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a crucial tool for economic analysis of climate policies. The SCC estimates the dollar value of reduced climate change damages associated with a one-metric-ton reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Although the conceptual basis, challenges, and merits of the SCC are well established, its use in government cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is relatively new. In light of challenges in constructing the SCC, its newness in government regulation, and the importance of updating, we propose an institutional process for regular SCC review and revision when used in government policy-making and suggest how scientists might contribute to improved SCC estimates.

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