Skip to Main Content
 
  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Environmental Change and Society
Board on Environmental Change and Society
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
BECS - TOPICS
Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon
Project Description

The Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) is an estimate, in dollars, of the long term damage caused by a one ton increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a given year; or viewed another way, the benefits of reducing CO2 emissions by that amount in a given year. The SCC is intended to be a comprehensive estimate of climate change damages that includes, among other costs, the changes in net agricultural productivity, risks to human health, and property damages from increased flood risks. Federal agencies use the SCC to value the social impacts of regulations.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, under the auspices of the Board on Environmental Change and Society, has assembled an interdisciplinary committee of experts to review the latest research on modeling the economic aspects of climate change to further inform future revision to the SCC estimates used in regulatory impact analyses. The study was requested by the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon, co-chaired by the Council of Economic Advisors and the Office of Management and Budget.

The committee’s work will be conducted in two phases, with an interim report expected from the first phase in early 2016 and a final report in early 2017. The first phase will examine the advantages and challenges of potential approaches to a near-term narrow update to the SCC. The committee’s final report will examine potential merits of a range of alternative approaches to updating the SCC estimates, with the goal of ensuring that the estimates continue to reflect the best available science and evidence, and will highlight research priorities going forward.

For the full charge, see the record at the Academies’ Current Project site.

Sponsors: Members of the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.



Submit Comments Button

These comments will be included
in the public access file for the project

Committee Members

Maureen Cropper (NAS), Co-Chair, University of Maryland
Richard Newell, Co-Chair, Duke University
Myles Allen, University of Oxford
Maximilian Auffhammer, University of California, Berkeley
Chris E. Forest, Pennsylvania State University
Inez Fung (NAS), University of California, Berkeley
James Hammitt, Harvard University
Henry Jacoby, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Robert Kopp, Rutgers University
William Pizer, Duke University
Steven Rose, Electric Power Research Institute
Richard Schmalensee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
John Weyant, Stanford University


Interim Report  
   
SCC Interim Assessment of Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon:
Phase 1 Report on a Near-Term Update

This report advises that there would not be sufficient benefit to updating estimates of the social cost of carbon (SCC) within a year based only on the revision of a specific parameter in the existing framework used by the government’s interagency group to measure the SCC. The committee considered whether a near-term change is warranted on the basis of updating the probability distribution for equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). Because ECS is only one input to the framework used to estimate the SCC, updating the ECS alone may not significantly improve the estimates. The report also recommends ways to change the IWG's technical support documents to enhance the qualitative characterization of uncertainties associated with the SCC estimates, which would increase the transparency of the estimates when used in regulatory impact analyses.

Meetings

Details about upcoming public meetings will be available at this site closer to the date of each meeting. You can also sign up below to receive information about any public meetings and notification of when the reports are available.

May 5, 2016 - Fifth committee meeting in Washington, DC  ► Information about the event
Agenda | Register here

February 11-12, 2016 - Fourth committee meeting in Washington, DC
(CLOSED MEETING)

January 26, 2016 - Public Briefing about interim report.  ► Information about the event

November 13, 2015 - Third committee meeting in Washington, DC ► View the presentations and archived webcast
Agenda

October 2-3, 2015 - Second committee meeting in Washington, DC
(CLOSED MEETING)

September 2, 2015 - First committee meeting in Washington, DC.  ► Presentations and Audio files
Agenda  


Background Information and Links

Related Reports:
   
 
  •  
Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Agency
National Academies Press, 2014
 
  •  
Effects of U.S. Tax Policy on Greenhouse Gas Emission
National Academies Press, 2013
 
  •  
America's Climate Choices - Chapter 4:  A Framework for Making America's Climate Choices
National Academies Press, 2011
 
  •  
Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millenia
National Academies Press, 2011
 
  •  
Hidden Cost of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use
National Academies Press, 2010
 
  •  
Describing Socioeconomic Futures for Climate Change Research and Assessment: Report of a Workshop
National Academies Press, 2010
 
  •  
Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change
National Academies Press, 2010
 
  •  
Advancing the Science of Climate Change
National Academies Press, 2010
 
  •  
Assessing Economic Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation: Summary of a Workshop
National Academies Press, 2009
   
Related Background Material:
   
 
  •  
Estimating the Benefits from Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reductions, July 2015
 
  •  
Technical Support Document: Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866, July 2015
 
  •  
Response to Comments: Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive
Order 12866
, July 2015


Staff

Jennifer Heimberg, Study Director
Casey J. Wichman, Consultant, Resources for the Future
Mary Ghitelman, Program Assistant
Mary Ellen O'Connell, Interim Director, BECS



BECS Home About BECS BECS in Brief BECS Brochure BECS Statement of Task BECS Members BECS Staff News & Events Upcoming Events BECS Inaugural Event Our Work Overview Current Projects Publications BECS Reports BECS Brochure BECS issue of IS&T - Summer 2012 Work With Us Our Study Process Study Process Brochure Getting to Know the Committee Process Overview for Sponsors Guide for Study Sponsors