Project Report:
Ocean System Damages and the Social Cost of Carbon
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


Climate change poses myriad threats to oceans. The ocean provides critical services that are essential to human well-being, including food, biodiversity, non-use value, recreation, and tourism. However, ocean acidification and warming (OAW), which are driven by the oceans absorbing emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) and climate change, are having significant detrimental impacts on these systems. While these impacts have substantial economic value, OAW has yet to be incorporated into estimate of the social cost of carbon (SCC). The SCC is a metric intended to reflect the damages, in dollars, stemming from an incremental ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere. The SCC is used by federal policymakers and others as a measure of the benefits of mitigating carbon emissions. To address this important gap for policymaking, RFF proposes to convene an interdisciplinary group of experts in a series of virtual workshops to study how researchers might go about incorporating OAW damages into the SCC.


The project will encourage discussion and further exploration of the economic effects of the impacts of climate change on ocean systems, such as biodiversity losses, fishery impacts, non-use value, coral reefs, and recreation/tourism. Further, the Social Cost of Carbon is an important metric that, in quantifying the cost of emissions, can support market-based solutions to mitigating those emissions. It is used by federal, state and local policymakers to evaluate the benefits of potential policies against the potential cost of regulation. It is also frequently used by corporations to evaluate the impact of their own proactive efforts to address climate change, and can inform markets for carbon offsets, or tradable certificates linked to activities that lower the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


The audience for this project is primarily decisionmakers at national level in the United States and the broader global research community around the Social Cost of Carbon. However, the work has important implications for other stakeholders at the local level and around the world.

Amount Approved
$56,000.00 on 6/8/2023 (Check sent: 6/21/2023)

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Andrew Gossett
Director, Foundation Engagement, Resources for the Future

Posted 3/30/2023 11:55 AM
Updated   6/21/2023 5:20 PM

  • Nonprofit

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