The Future of U.S. Carbon-Pricing Policy
- May 30, 2019 3:55 pm GMT
In 2007, I was asked by the leaders of the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project to write a paper describing a national emissions trading system to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to help address the threat of global climate change. I responded that I would prefer to write broadly about carbon-pricing instruments, including what I considered to be the symmetric instruments of a carbon tax and a carbon trading program. But the Hamilton Project leaders said no, they would find someone else to write about carbon taxes (which turned out to be Gib Metcalf), and they wanted me to “make the strongest case possible for” what is today called a cap-and-trade system. I did my best, and in the process I came to be identified – and to some degree may have become – an advocate for CO2 cap-and-trade. For better or for worse, during the Obama administration transition, the design recommendations in my Hamilton Project paper became one of the starting points for efforts to structure the administration’s proposed CO2 cap-and-trade system that became part of the failed Waxman-Markey legislation, H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.
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