It’s Tuesday, March 2, and the U.S. has a new figure for the damages caused by carbon emissions.

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The Biden administration released a new estimate of the cost of carbon emissions last week, significantly ratcheting up the value after former President Donald Trump deflated it during his term.

The new, interim estimate for the “social cost of carbon,” a single number that attempts to capture the total monetary damages caused by spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, is $51 per ton — seven times higher than the value generally used during the Trump administration. The new figure is more in line with the societal cost used under former President Barack Obama, during whose term the value reached $37 per ton.

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The social cost of carbon isn’t just for show — the number has real impacts on the policies and plans of the federal government, including the decision making of Cabinet-level agencies. A higher social cost of carbon means that the government-estimated costs of fossil fuel projects go up, making it harder for companies to get permits for coal, gas, and oil projects around the country.

Over time, Biden will likely raise his valuation of the social cost of carbon even more: The administration plans to conduct a more thorough analysis over the next several months, and some experts think the value could reach as much as $125 per ton in the future.

Shannon Osaka

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The Smog

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Emily Pontecorvo