social cost of carbon

Whose Interests Count? And How Much?

Whether to consider harms to foreign countries and future generations is controversial. So is how much weight to give harm to the poor.

Should regulators take into account harm to people in other countries? What about harm to future generations? Should we give special attention when the disadvantaged are harmed? These questions are central to climate policy and some other important environmental issues. I’ll use cost-benefit analysis as a framework for discussing these issues. You probably don’t need …

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Taking the Court’s Temperature on Global Warming

A case on the shadow docket may shed light on the Court’s direction.

Court watchers and environmentalists are waiting with bated breath for the Supreme Court to rule on West Virginia v. EPA, the Court’s most important climate change case in a generation. The issue in that case is what, if anything, EPA can do to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and factories. Yesterday, conservative states asked …

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Future Shock

The latest IPCC report contains crucial new information about how soon and how bad climate impacts will be.

When the IPCC released its latest climate science report a few weeks ago, many commentators observed that the report should heighten our sense of urgency about climate action. Most of that discussion was at a very general level. It’s worth taking a closer look at some key findings and their policy implications. Here, I want …

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Calculating the  Extinction Cost of Carbon

Or, how many megatons do we need to cut to prevent one extinction?

Economists often talk about the social cost of carbon, which basically translates the harm done by a ton of CO2 into dollars. The dollar metric is less useful as applied to ecological impacts like species extinctions than impacts of humans.  It may be better to skip the dollar conversion, and just ask how much a …

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Recalculating the Cost of Climate Change

The Biden Administration has already started to revisit this important issue.

“The social cost of carbon” isn’t exactly a household phrase. It’s an estimate of the harm caused by emitting a ton of CO2 over the many decades it remains in the atmosphere.  That’s an important factor in calculating the costs and benefits of climate regulations. For an arcane concept, it has certainly caused a lot …

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Resuscitating Obama’s Environmental Legacy

Trump has had a single-minded focus on eliminating any traces of Obama’s presidency. But it’s not too late to turn the tide.

We’ve now had nearly four years of Trump’s all-out war on environmental protection. Trump has single-mindedly tried  to wipe out every trace of Obama’s legacy.  It’s time to see what’s left of Obama’s achievements. And what could a new President do to revive his legacy? In a Legal Planet post a week before the last …

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An Easy, No-Fuss, Climate Fix for that Big First Day in Office

No, not rejoining the Paris Agreement, though that’s a good idea too. Something else.

This is kind of like one of those recipe things you see: putting a gourmet meal on the table in five minutes.  But it’s more like: the one ingredient that will make all your recipes come out better.  More seriously, what I’m about to propose is very conventional, easily integrated into agency procedures, and a …

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The Rise of Benefit-Blind Analysis 

The Trump Administration cares about regulatory costs. Regulatory benefits? Not so much.

Since Ronald Reagan’s time, there has been a consensus among conservatives that cost-benefit analysis (CBA) should be the gold standard for regulation.  That approach has given them common ground with moderates such as Cass Sunstein, many economists (whether liberal or conservative), and at least a few   scholars more environmentally inclined.  Cost-benefit analysis has had its …

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The Social Cost of Carbon – Revisited

The case for using global rather than simply U.S. impacts.

The estimated harm done by a single ton of carbon in the atmosphere – the “social cost of carbon” — is a key factor in setting climate policy. The Trump Administration is trying to get its estimate as close to zero as possible. A key part of this effort is to exclude from consideration the …

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Whither the Social Cost of Carbon?

Trump rescinded the Obama Administration’s estimate. Now what?

Republicans vehemently attacked the Obama Administration’s estimate of the social cost of carbon. Trump withdrew that estimate and directed individual federal agencies to do their own estimates. The agencies will now be faced with a number of problems, and it’s not clear that they are well positioned to deal with them.  They might prefer to …

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