Professor Cropper Works to Estimate the Social Cost of Carbon

Distinguished University Professor Maureen Cropper, chair of the Department of Economics, recently served as co-chair of the Committee on Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon Dioxide, which was organized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report was launched on January 11.

The committee recommended that—in order to estimate the social cost of carbon dioxide for use in regulatory impact analyses—the federal government should use a new framework that would strengthen the scientific basis, provide greater transparency, and improve characterization of the uncertainties of the estimates. The committee’s report also identifies a number of near- and longer-term improvements that should be made for calculating the social cost of carbon.

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Our committee recommends that the social cost of carbon dioxide be computed using an integrated, modular framework. Each of the four steps in the analysis—projecting socioeconomic and emissions pathways, modeling the link between emissions and climate, estimating net climate damages and discounting paths of net damages to the present—would be developed using experts from the relevant disciplines. The committee provides criteria for conducting each step of the analysis and suggests approaches that could be used in constructing each module in the near term,” Professor Cropper said.

The committee hopes that, as a result of their efforts, the social cost of carbon dioxide will be updated approximately every five years, following the process described in the report.

Maureen Cropper