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Social Cost of Carbon 3X+ Higher

Karl R. Rábago's picture
Principal, Rábago Energy LLC

Karl R. Rábago operates an energy consultancy as Rábago Energy LLC, based in Denver, Colorado, USA. Karl has more than 30 years of experience in energy and climate policy and markets and is...

  • Member since 2021
  • 6 items added with 549 views
  • Sep 2, 2022

My inbox is blowing up - on the Friday before a long weekend, to boot - about the new story at the Washington Post that says researchers published in the journal Nature. It says that the social cost of carbon emissions is not $7/ton as used by the Trump administration, and not $51/ton as used by the Obama and Biden administration, but a whopping $185/ton.

Surely this will prompt debate, but I think it is worth thinking about how a much higher social cost of carbon could impact all manner of things energy. A short list includes IRPs, dispatch, and electrification. There are doubtless energy justice and equity issues related to who bears the costs, as well.

How do we grapple with such information? Here are some questions for potential discussion:

Is an IRP valid if it doesn't include at least one scenario or sensitivity that reflects carbon costs at $150 or above?

Can we afford NOT to encourage distributed generation and net metering?

How much faster can we electrify transportation with renewables?

What is the present value of potential damages for the existing fleet, and how does that factor into retirement studies?

Do long term decarbonization commitments all need a fresh look and more aggressive timetables?

Can we really accept continued externalization of such costs when they are so high?





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Karl R. Rábago's picture
Thank Karl R. for the Post!
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