Don’t Dismiss the Costs of Climate Change


Target: President Barack Obama

Goal: Incorporate the very real costs of carbon pollution into all federal government decisions

Climate change stands to affect every aspect of our life on this planet, and the more aware we become of our impact, the more we work to lessen it. President Obama has made climate change one of the key points of his presidency, impressing upon federal agencies the necessity of cleaner energy and greater efficiency in the use of energy sources already available. The “social cost of carbon” is a measure developed by federal agencies using climate science and economics to determine the cost in dollars and cents of carbon emissions and other big pollutants. Unfortunately, these estimates are not applied to all rulings made by federal agencies, leaving the public unaware of the costs of our government’s environmental decisions.

The social cost of carbon measures the economic costs and benefits of carbon emission increases and decreases, including effects on health, property—from flooding—and agricultural gains and losses. The estimates have been used to track the effects of certain rulings and to inform future environmental rulings by the federal government. The laws put into place governing the auto industry’s manufacturing practices and the toxic pollutants from power plants are among the ways the estimates have so far been put into use.

The social cost of carbon has been used to garner support for sustainable measures the current administration sought to pass by providing the necessary context for the picture of longevity energy efficiency and natural preservation paint over the immediate economic gains of short-term energy solutions such as fossil fuels. Sadly, these calculations have not been applied to many other areas controlled by federal oversight, like the decision made by the Bureau of Land Management to lease over two billion tons of coal to private interests. Because no detailed evaluation of  the benefits and drawbacks of the agreement were made, the public did not benefit from full disclosure of the impact of continued carbon emissions at such a high rate.

The social cost of carbon is a necessary tool for calculating our nation’s long-term impact. If we are to make informed decisions on a federal or individual level about how best to proceed in an energy crisis, we need to have access to our most accurate estimates of what those decisions will cost us.

Sign this petition in support of using the social cost of carbon estimates for all federal rulings related to pollution in our nation and for the full public disclosure of those estimates.


Dear President Obama,

The social cost of carbon estimates have proven instrumental for your administration and the way it handles decisions about our nation’s energy future. The estimates have helped to pass laws preserving our natural resources and furthering a sustainable agenda, but the federal government seems to be missing opportunities to use these estimates for decisions across all federal agencies where it relates to pollution and emissions. The estimates also allow for unprecedented public disclosure of the true costs of fossil fuel dependence and federal decisions regarding our nation’s environmental impact.

Don’t let an important tool go to waste and don’t allow oil-dependent and short-sighted agendas to control how we confront the crisis of climate change. I urge you to estimate the impact of all federal rulings related to pollution using the social cost of carbon.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

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