By Hannah Hess

Treating carbon dioxide emissions as a global problem might not make sense under the Trump administration, Republicans argued yesterday during a hearing examining the social cost of carbon (SCC).

When President Obama occupied the Oval Office, agencies used the figure currently set around $40 per metric ton of CO2 to estimate how much emissions from the United States contribute to the damage of warming around the planet. Backers of the SCC point to the Paris Agreement, signed by 194 countries, as validation of the importance of treating it as a global problem.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee delved into the SCC as top GOP lawmakers came out against deep cuts proposed by the White House to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Aid (E&E News PM, Feb. 28). President Trump’s team is assessing the future of the United States’ involvement in the Paris Agreement, including a review of the special envoy posts in charge of climate change.

Former Obama administration official Michael Greenstone, who served as chief economist for the Council of Economic Advisers in 2009 and 2010, said rolling back climate regulations would result in higher temperatures, sea-level rise and a “variety of risks” for future generations. The benefits of emissions reductions play out in part in international politics, Greenstone suggested, with the United States gaining “increased leverage” for its leadership.

Reverting to an SCC that only considers domestic benefits of carbon reductions is “essentially asking the rest of the world to ramp up their emissions,” Greenstone said…

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