Analysis: Carbon cost is 15 times what Biden supports

Analysis: Carbon cost is 15 times what Biden supports

The analysis was submitted in response to an invitation to comment from the Office of Management and Budget

WASHINGTON, DC A new analysis found that the social cost of CO2 calculates to at least 15 times the amount that the Biden Administration currently supports, which is $51/ton. The analysis was submitted in a comment to the Office of Management and Budget as part of a process to determine the social cost of greenhouse gases (SC-GHG), which represents a monetary calculation of the cost to society of one additional ton of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The social cost of greenhouse gases is one of the most important numbers that no one has ever heard of,” said Karen Orenstein, Climate and Energy Program Director at Friends of the Earth U.S. “If the U.S. were to assume its fair share of the global effort to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the cost of one ton of GHG emissions would be so high that government support for climate polluting investments would be a non-starter.” 

On January 20, 2021, President Biden re-established the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, previously disbanded by Donald Trump, through the issuance of Executive Order 13990. The E.O. requires that SC-GHG estimates used by the federal government reflect the best available science and account for climate risk, environmental justice, and intergenerational equity. 

“The current update to federal SC-GHG values is an important opportunity to address the United States’ global responsibility to lead on aggressive action to stop climate change,” said Dr. Elizabeth A. Stanton, Director and Senior Economist at Applied Economics Clinic. 

Among the recommendations concerning the current revision to the U.S. SC-GHG, are:

  • The SC-GHG should use a discount rate of 1 percent (or lower) that shrinks over time to represent present generations’ ethical obligation to future generations.
  • The SC-GHG should include climate damages around the world, not just within the U.S.
  • The SC-GHG should place equal value on all people, families, and communities, rather than modeling practices that weigh the value of a lost human life or other climate damages in proportion to local income or economic output.
  • SC-GHG modeling should be aligned with national levels of emissions reductions determined by scientific analysis, historical responsibility, and capacity to act – the U.S. “fair share” – to be consistent with a high likelihood of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius.


Communications contact: Kaela Bamberger, [email protected], 202-222-0703

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