President Biden on Friday addressed the social cost of carbon, a little-known but important figure that influences a wide range of policies to regulate industry and power generation. Mr Biden’s action resets the number to the Obama-era price and re-establishes a working group that calculates the economic impact of pollution.
The social cost of carbon is an estimate of the long-term carbon damage to our environment in US dollars. Former President Trump disbanded the Interagency Working Group (IWG), which set the figure in 2017, and directed the agencies to drastically devalue the social cost of carbon. Biden’s announcement restores the IWG and increases the cost of carbon back to $ 51 per tonne of carbon dioxide.
However, that number was set by the IWG prior to the group’s dissolution in 2017 and, according to a, does not reflect the “recent developments in science and business” of climate change Technical support document published on Friday by the working group. The IWG has now been commissioned to recalculate the social costs of carbon and the social costs of other greenhouse gases and to provide an updated figure by January 2022.
“A more complete update that follows the best of science takes time, so we’re quickly restoring previous estimates as an intermediate step,” said Heather Boushey, member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, in one White House statement on behalf of the IWG co-chairs. “As these estimates are temporary, the Interagency Working Group will continue its critical work to assess and incorporate the latest climate science and economic research, and respond to recommendations from the National Academies, while we have a broader revision of the estimates for publication within a develop year. “
Activists and experts say the number has to be significantly higher if the United States is to meet its obligations under the framework Paris Agreement, a climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in more than 180 countries worldwide. Mr Trump withdrew from the deal in 2020, and so did Mr Biden it re-entered on its first day in office.
Professor Joe Stiglitz of Columbia University and Professor Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics and Political Science said in a Explanation Earlier this month, Mr Biden’s decision to quickly get rid of the Trump administration’s “risky estimate” was “understandable” but “flawed”. Stiglitz and Stern say the US must double the Obama-era figure to $ 100 per tonne of carbon dioxide “to ensure that policies and regulations meet the goals of the Paris Agreement”.
“The low score adopted by the Obama administration was based on the results of economic models that are known to be inadequate and ignore the greatest potential impacts of climate change,” they wrote. “We trust that the Biden administration will conduct a thorough assessment of the social cost of carbon before issuing its final assessment of its value next year.”
Other experts believe the cost should be up to $ 125 per ton. as the state of New York estimated last year.
“During this process, we are committed to engaging with the public and various stakeholders, seeking advice from ethics experts and ensuring that the social costs of greenhouse gases take into account climate risk, environmental justice and equity between generations” says the White House report Explanation. “The result will be even stronger science-based estimates developed through a transparent and robust process.”