Publications

    Green, Richard, and Iain Staffell. “Richard Green and Iain Staffell - The Contribution of Taxes, Subsidies and Regulations to British Electricity Decarbonisation,” Working Paper.Abstract

    Great Britain’s carbon emissions from electricity generation fell by two-thirds between 2012 and 2019, providing an important example for other nations. This rapid transition was driven by a complex interplay of policies and events: investment in renewable generation, closure of coal power stations, raising carbon prices and energy efficiency measures. Previous studies of the impact of these simultaneous individual measures miss their interactions with each other and with exogenous changes in fuel prices and the weather. Here we use Shapley values, a concept from cooperative game theory, to disentangle these and precisely attribute outcomes (CO2 saved, changes to electricity prices and fossil fuel consumption) to individual drivers. We find the effectiveness of each driver remained stable despite the transformation seen over the 7 years we study. The four main drivers each saved 19–29 MtCO2 per year in 2019, reinforcing the view that there is no ‘silver bullet’, and a multi-faceted approach to deep decarbonisation is essential.

    Adly, Joseph. “Long-term Carbon Policy: The Great Swap.” In, 2016.Abstract

    Excerpt trom the Introduction:
    In the past two decades, the mounting risks posed by climate change have motivated businesses, cities, states, national governments, and the international community to pledge to take action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Given the scale of the problem, the breadth of action must be effective and must set the foundation for increasing mitigation efforts over time. Thus, delivering on these pledges will require effective policies to drive the deployment of low-carbon technologies today and technological innovation in the future to ramp ambition up on par with the risks of climate change.

    Climate change is a problem no country can solve by itself. Since the mid-1990s, the United States has advocated for developed and developing countries to work together in combating climate change and, with the United States' leadership, the 2015 Paris Agreement delivered unprecedented commitments by virtually every country on the planet to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Now, the election of Donald J. Trump, an avowed global warming skeptic, has thrown America's commitment to global leadership in doubt. If the United States quits the fight against climate change, this risks unraveling the global coalition and could result in other countries following suit. This would be a tragic mistake with incalculable consequences for the entire planet. Moreover, some nations may retaliate against the United States by imposing tariffs on American-manufactured goods based on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their production.

    Hogan, William W.Electricity Markets and the Clean Power Plan.” In, 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    The Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule that defines a broad and complicated set of standards for controlling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from affected electricity generating units. (Environmental Protection Agency, 2015b) The proposed national average reduction by 2030 is 32% from the 2005 level of emissions, about half of which has already occurred. (Environmental Protection Agency, 2015j) The rules for new power plants are relatively straightforward and imply little more than reinforcing the current economic choice of natural gas over coal fired generation, given current projections for the price of natural gas. The Clean Power Plan rules for existing power plants arise under a different section of the Clean Air Act and present a more complicated picture. The result has implications for the nature and degree of future limitations on carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector. In addition, some versions of the possible implementation plans could have material implications for the operations of Regional Transmission Organizations under the regulations of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The purpose here is to highlight some of the possible directions for relevant policies of electricity system operators.
    Taylor, Jerry.The Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax.” In, 2015.Abstract
    Costly and economically inefficient command-and-control greenhouse gas regulations are firmly entrenched in law, and there is no plausible scenario in which they can be removed by conservative political force. Even were that not the case, the risks imposed by climate change are real, and a policy of ignoring those risks and hoping for the best is inconsistent with risk management practices conservatives embrace in other, non-climate contexts. Conservatives should embrace a carbon tax (a much less costly means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions) in return for elimination of EPA regulatory authority over greenhouse gas emissions, abolition of green energy subsidies and regulatory mandates, and offsetting tax cuts to provide for revenue neutrality. Arguments that unilateral action by the United States produces little climate benefit, that a carbon tax will expand the size of government, that a carbon tax is a regressive, that adaptation and geo-engineering is preferable to emissions constraint, that economists cannot confidently design a carbon tax that does more good than harm, that the legislative process cannot deliver a carbon tax worth embracing, and that promoting a carbon tax puts conservatives on a slippery political slope are explored and found wanting.
    of the of the House., Office Press Secretary White. “Fact Sheet: The United States and China Issue Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change with New Domestic Policy Commitments and a Common Vision for an Ambitious Global Climate Agreement in Paris."” In, 2015.Abstract
    On the occasion of President Xi’s State Visit to Washington, D.C., the United States and China today marked another major milestone in their joint leadership in the fight against climate change with the release of a U.S.-China Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change. The Statement, which builds on last November’s historic announcement by President Obama and President Xi of ambitious, respective post-2020 climate targets, describes a common vision for a new global climate agreement to be concluded in Paris this December. The Statement also includes significant domestic policy announcements and commitments to global climate finance, demonstrating the determination of both countries to act decisively to achieve the goals set last year.
    Group, The Brattle. “Brattle Group Policy Brief: EPA's Proposed Clean Power Plan: Implications for States and the Electric Industry."” In, 2014.Abstract

    EXCERPT FROM THE INTORDUCTION:

    On June 2, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its proposed performance standards for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act Section 111(d).1 The proposed rule requires each state to reduce its CO2 emissions rate from existing fossil fuel plants to meet state-specific standards (in pounds per MWh) starting in 2020, with a final rate for 2030 and beyond.2 The EPA estimates that the rule will achieve a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from the U.S. electric power sector in 2030 relative to 2005 levels. Once the rule is finalized in 2015, states will have until June 2016 to submit initial state implementation plans, to be finalized by June 2017 for stand-alone plans, and by June 2018 for multi-state plans.

    Agency, Environmental Protection. “Environmental Protection Agency. Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.” In, 2014.Abstract

    EXCERPT FROM THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

     

    This Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) discusses potential benefits, costs, and economic impacts of the proposed Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (herein referred to EGU GHG Existing Source Guidelines). This RIA also discusses the potential benefits, costs and economic impacts of the proposed Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reconstructed and Modified Stationary Sources (EGU GHG Reconstructed and Modified Source Standards).

     

    ES.1 Background and Context of Proposed EGU GHG Existing Source Guidelines Greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans' health and welfare by leading to longlasting changes in our climate that can have a range of severely negative effects on human health and the environment. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas pollutant, accounting for nearly three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions and 84 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs) are, by far, the largest emitters of GHGs, primarily in the form of CO2, among stationary sources in the U.S. In this action, the EPA is proposing emission guidelines for states to use in developing plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired EGUs. Specifically, the EPA is proposing state-specific rate-based goals for carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, as well as emission guidelines for states to use in developing plans to attain the statespecific goals. This rule, as proposed, would set in motion actions to lower the carbon dioxide emissions associated with existing power generation sources in the United States.

    McCarthy, James, Alissa M. Dolan, Robert Meltz, Jane A. Leggett, and Jonathan L. Ramseur. “ EPA's Proposed Greenhouse Gas Regulations for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions.” In, 2014.Abstract

    SUMMARY

    Taking action to address climate change by reducing U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is among President Obama’s major goals. At an international conference in Copenhagen in 2009, he committed the United States to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases 17% by 2020, as compared to 2005 levels. At the time, 85 other nations also committed to reductions.

    Since U.S. GHG emissions peaked in 2007, a variety of factors—some economic, some the effect of government policies at all levels—have brought the United States more than halfway to reaching the 2020 goal. Getting the rest of the way would likely depend, to some degree, on continued GHG emission reductions from electric power plants, which are the largest source of U.S. emissions.

    In June 2013, the President released a Climate Action Plan that addressed this and other climate issues. At the same time, he directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose standards for “carbon pollution” (i.e., carbon dioxide, the principal GHG) from existing power plants by June 2014 and to finalize them in June 2015. Under the President’s timetable, by June 2016, states would be required to submit to EPA plans to implement the standards.

    On June 2, 2014, EPA responded to the first of these directives by releasing the proposed standards.

    The proposal relies on authority given EPA by Congress decades ago in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). This section has been little used—the last use was in 1996—and never interpreted by the courts, so a number of questions have arisen regarding the extent of EPA’s authority and the mechanisms of implementation. EPA tends to refer to the regulations as “guideline documents”—although that term is not used in the statute—perhaps to indicate that the section is intended to give primary authority to the states. The proposed guideline document would set interim (2020s averages) and final (2030) emission rate goals for each state based on four “building blocks”—broad categories that describe different reduction measures; in general, however, the policies to be adopted to reach these goals would be determined by the states, not EPA.

    EPA faced a number of issues in developing the proposed regulations:

    • How large a reduction in emissions would it propose, and by when?

    • What year would it choose as the base against which to measure progress?

    • How flexible would it make the regulations? Would it adopt a “mass-based” limit on total emissions or a rate-based (e.g., pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt- hour of electricity) approach?

    • What role might allowance systems play in meeting the goals?

    • Will compliance be determined only by the actions of power companies (i.e., “inside the fence” actions) or will actions by energy consumers (“outside the fence”) be part of compliance strategies?

    • Would states and power companies that have already reduced GHG emissions receive credit for doing so? What about states and power generators with high levels of emissions, perhaps due to heavy reliance on coal-fired power? Would they be required to reduce emissions more than others, less than others, or the same?

    • What role would there be for existing programs at the state and regional levels, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and for broader greenhouse gas reduction programs such as those implemented pursuant to California’s AB 32?

    This report summarizes EPA’s proposal and answers many of these questions. In addition to discussing details of the proposed rule, the report addresses a number of questions regarding the reasons EPA is proposing this rule; EPA’s authority under Section 111 of the CAA; EPA’s previous experience using that authority; the steps the agency must take to finalize the proposed rule; and other background questions.

    Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act 1990-2020. Report Documents and Graphics. EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    In March 2011, EPA issued the Second Prospective Report which looked at the results of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020. According to this study, the central benefits estimate exceeds costs by a factor of more than 30 to one. The report was updated in April 2011.

    The report includes an Executive Summary which describes the study and its findings in more detail and nine technical appendices which provide in-depth documentation for each of the analytical components.

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