James Temple at MIT Technology Review quotes me in an article on how the Trump Administration may undo the social cost of carbon:
To date, the social cost of carbon hasn’t generally been the make or break factor on any given public policy cost-benefit analysis, says Danny Cullenward, a Stanford lecturer and energy economist. Rather it provided an additional economic and climate justification for policies. In the same way, it’s not likely to be the single underpinning that, once watered down or removed, suddenly allows the Trump administration to enact the sweeping changes to environmental rules that they aspire to make anyway.
The bigger play here is to dull or destroy an instrument that could become much sharper in the future, as the mounting body of science provides a clearer sense of the true, higher cost of greenhouse gas emissions.
“It was much more a tool intended to be proactive on climate policy, rather than as a defensive line to hold ground,” Cullenward says.
Thanks to James for taking the time to dig into this complicated but important issue. I've been thinking a lot about the future of the social cost of carbon in preparation for an upcoming session in my class this quarter, and will also be participating in a SIEPR workshop where environmental economists will discuss the next generation of econometric studies of climate damages. This new article is a great overview of the key issues to watch for in the coming weeks and months, as well as a useful reminder of how scientific and policy issues blend together during times of political change.