The Social Cost of Carbon

Editor: Robert Kopp, U.S Department of Energy, Washington, DC, Richard Tol, Department of Economics, University of Sussex, and Stephanie Waldhoff, Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


The social cost of carbon—the marginal external costs resulting from enhanced climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions—is an important concept in environmental policy. It is closely related to the Pigou tax, the price that should apply to emissions if the aim is to maximise global welfare. The social cost of carbon could therefore theoretically inform assessment of the desirable intensity of climate policy, and it plays a crucial role in any cost-benefit analysis of emission abatement initiatives.

There are two major challenges to estimating the social cost of carbon. First, everything about climate change and its impacts is uncertain. This is partly because climate change is primarily a problem in the future; and partly because both the human and natural components of the Earth system—and thus both the drivers and the impacts of global climate change—are complex and only partially understood. Second, any assessment of the seriousness of climate change requires value judgements about the relative importance of temporal impacts: those that occur now and in the future; spatial impacts: those that impact people near and far across the globe; and the risk aversion of society for uncertain impacts: the more severe damages that may occur less likely, but still plausible, futures.

The aim of this special issue is to revisit the social cost of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The special issue is open to new estimates of its size, its composition, and its sensitivity to assumptions; to novel discussions of the conceptual and theoretical issues in estimating the social cost of carbon; and to assessments of its potential use in regulation and policy.



Stephanie Waldhoff, David Anthoff, Steven Rose, and Richard S. J. Tol
The Marginal Damage Costs of Different Greenhouse Gases: An Application of FUND
October 01, 2014 | downloads: 1349 | JEL: Q54 | 1 comment
Simon Dietz
The Treatment of Risk and Uncertainty in the US Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis
May 24, 2012 | downloads: 1741 | JEL: Q54
Robert E. Kopp and Bryan K. Mignone
The U.S. Government’s Social Cost of Carbon Estimates after Their First Two Years: Pathways for Improvement
May 04, 2012 | downloads: 2472 | JEL: Q54, Q58
Robert E. Kopp, Alexander Golub, Nathaniel O. Keohane, and Chikara Onda
The Influence of the Specification of Climate Change Damages on the Social Cost of Carbon
April 30, 2012 | downloads: 2046 | JEL: Q54, Q58 | 3 citations (RePEc)
Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton
Climate Risks and Carbon Prices: Revising the Social Cost of Carbon
April 04, 2012 | downloads: 2787 | JEL: Q54, Q58 | 12 citations (RePEc)
Jonathan Pycroft, Lucia Vergano, Chris W. Hope, Daniele Paci, and Juan Carlos Ciscar
A Tale of Tails: Uncertainty and the Social Cost of Carbon Dioxide
December 22, 2011 | downloads: 1828 | JEL: Q54 | 1 comment | 2 citations (RePEc)
Carolyn Kousky, Robert E. Kopp, and Roger M. Cooke
Risk Premia and the Social Cost of Carbon: A Review
December 20, 2011 | downloads: 2391 | JEL: Q54 | 1 citations (RePEc)
Alex L. Marten
Transient Temperature Response Modeling in IAMs: The Effects of Over Simplification on the SCC
October 20, 2011 | downloads: 1583 | JEL: Q54, Q58 | 5 citations (RePEc)

Discussion Papers

Tomas Kögel
The Rate of Change of the Social Cost of Carbon and the Social Planner’s Hotelling Rule
August 14, 2012 | downloads: 760 | JEL: D61, Q54 | discussible | 6 comments
David Anthoff, Steven Rose, Richard S. J. Tol, and Stephanie Waldhoff
The Time Evolution of the Social Cost of Carbon: An Application of Fund
October 28, 2011 | downloads: 764 | JEL: Q54 | discussible | 3 comments | 1 citations (RePEc)
Chris W. Hope
The Social Cost of CO2 from the PAGE09 Model
September 15, 2011 | downloads: 1235 | JEL: Q51, Q54, Q58 | discussible | 4 comments | 3 citations (RePEc)
Tomas Kögel
The Social Cost of Carbon on an Optimal Balanced Growth Path
September 01, 2011 | downloads: 766 | JEL: D61, Q54 | discussible | 6 comments
Roger M. Cooke
A Shapley Value Approach to Pricing Climate Risks
June 14, 2011 | downloads: 794 | JEL: C71, Q54 | discussible | 4 comments