Understanding the social cost of carbon

This factsheet explains the social cost of carbon and the actions that businesses should take to help make the climate crisis history.

The most important number you have never heard of

This Business in the Community (BITC) factsheet helps us to understand the key points about the social cost of carbon and the action that businesses should take to help make the climate crisis history.

What is the social cost of carbon?

The social cost of carbon captures the economic damage that results from the increased concentration of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. By modelling different variables and their impacts on global GDP, it is possible to assess the likely costs of inaction.

This factsheet includes:

  • key points about the social cost of carbon
  • understanding the costs by sector
  • what action businesses can take to minimise the costs
  • where next for the social cost of carbon.


The last few months have seen COVID-19 cause unprecedented disruption to businesses and communities around the world. The social cost has been huge, and the impacts are likely to last for years. What we have seen is that the real-life impacts for people and companies have been far beyond the economic headlines.  It is crucial that we learn the lessons and do all we can to minimise the extent of climate breakdown, to avoid even bigger societal costs that will happen if we don’t act now.

Challenge 2030 – find out how your organisation can be involved.

Challenge 2030 calls for bold leadership from business to help make the climate crisis history.
BITC is calling on business to increase:

  1. The speed with which they will achieve net zero carbon targets aligned to the Paris agreement
  2. The scale of ambition in their climate action plans to rapidly cut carbon and prepare for climate impacts 
  3. The scope of their influence by collaborating with employees, suppliers, customers and sectors to unlock barriers to action

The BITC environment agenda

Our environment and sustainability agenda encourages innovative and transformational change at the core of business. Our programmes focus on building a one-planet economy that delivers lasting prosperity through the UN Global Goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Business in the Community is innovating to sustain and repair our planet