UC Implements an Equity Weighted Social Cost of Carbon

January 11, 2023

By Ellen Vaughan 

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The University of California has begun utilizing an equity weighted social cost of carbon in its carbon neutrality planning. The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a science-based estimate, in dollars, of the economic damages that result from the impact of each additional ton of CO2 emissions. The SCC incorporates the societal costs of climate change into university investment decisions to reduce campus energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

“I’m excited to see the UC become climate justice leaders once again by choosing an equity weighted social cost of carbon to be considered in their energy modeling,” said Ellen Vaughan, water & climate action manager in the UCSC Sustainability Office and chair of the UC’s subcommittee on the social cost of carbon. “We’ve met with multiple other houses destroyed by hurricanehigher education institutions that have been implementing a proxy price on carbon for years with great success. I look forward to UCSC, and all the UC campuses finding new and existing opportunities to utilize this number to more accurately assess the global impact of our energy decisions.” 

The UC is utilizing the 2020 equity weighted social cost of carbon figure of $246. 

Please review our new website to learn more about the background of this initiative, why we implemented a SCC, the methodology and results of identifying a SCC, greater details on the equity weighting argument, how we’re working to implement the SCC, and additional resources.