The Social Cost of Carbon

Climate change is the central issue of our time, affecting everything connected to the natural world.

Economists have calculated the costs of climate change, one of which is the social cost of carbon (SCC). Watching this 3-minute video on SCC is an easy way to understand the reasoning behind the concept and what it means in terms of government decision making that affects all of us.

An additional resource is this explanation by Kevin Rennet and Cora Kingdon of Resources for the Future (excerpted here): “The social cost of carbon (SCC) is an estimate, in dollars, of the economic damages that would result from emitting one additional ton of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The SCC puts the effects of climate change into economic terms to help policymakers and other decisionmakers understand the economic impacts of decisions that would increase or decrease emissions. The SCC is currently used by local, state, and federal governments to inform billions of dollars of policy and investment decisions in the United States and abroad. This explainer reviews how the SCC is used in policy analysis, how it is calculated, and how it came to be.”

The Environmental Defense Fund offers accessible articles on SCC as well as an amazing podcast called Degrees. The host, Yesh Pavlik Slenk, interviews people who use their jobs and their time to make a real difference for their communities.

Want to reduce your own carbon footprint? Rare.org suggests 7 easy ways to start.

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