Back in January, President Barack Obama proclaimed in his State of the Union speech that if Congress did not act on climate change, his administration would. In a recent Office of Management and Budget order, the administration did just that -- in quiet fashion.
On May 31, the Department of Energy announced new efficiency standards for microwave ovens. The change was lauded as a move that would "dramatically reduce harmful carbon pollution."
A large part of the ability to accomplish that goal was an adjustment by the Obama administration to increase the social cost of carbon. The Hill reported on June 5 that a directive was executed by the Office of Management and Budget, and Bloomberg added on Wednesday that the jump will go from $23.80 to $38 per metric ton by 2015.
In a Monday report, Inside Climate News explained how the term is the figure used to calculate the price society incurs as a result of carbon dioxide emissions. At that increase of nearly $15 per metric ton, that figure could significantly affect anything and everything from the aforementioned microwave ovens to the Keystone XL pipeline. It also brings the possibility of a carbon tax into play.
Last Thursday, the Washington Post's Brad Plumer characterized the decision as "more than an accounting change."
"In essence, the White House is now saying that global warming will be more damaging than previously estimated, mainly because of new data on the effects of the rise in sea level," he wrote.