By Rachel Koning Beals
President Biden’s climate-change team is temporarily returning to numbers used by the Obama administration to assign monetary value to greenhouse gas emissions.
The group indicated in its Friday release that the final values could be higher.
The interim estimate puts the average cost of carbon of $51 per ton as they assess the costs and benefits of mandates to curb emissions. The temporary figure calculates the social cost of carbon, adjusted for inflation, and is used by federal agencies. The report could help the Biden administration justify stricter emissions controls.
Federal agencies will also adopt interim values for the social cost of methane and nitrous oxide, two other greenhouse gases, also aligned with the Obama administration’s metric.
A final number from Biden is expected to be set in a year.
At least one former economist focusing on climate change during the Obama administration, Michael Greenstone, thought Biden should settle on interim values twice as high, at around $100 per ton.
Differing opinions on setting the cost typically are tied to guessing how far in the future the greatest impact will be felt.