What Do State Renewable Portfolio Standards Mean for Carbon Intensity?

In the last two decades, 31 states have passed renewable portfolio standards (RPS) into law that are aimed at increasing the portion of state energy that is sourced from renewable, typically non-carbon-emitting, resources. In many states, such standards were not explicitly meant to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, although given the energy sources they promote […]

Mixing and Matching Electricity Sector Policies

A number of concerns have emerged over the last decade about climate change, energy security, and energy efficiency, inspiring an equally long list of proposed policy fixes. The majority of these options, including renewables subsidies, performance standards, and emissions pricing schemes, apply directly to the power sector. Lawmakers can also choose to implement multiple policies […]

Flexibility and Cost-Effectiveness in Proposed Climate Policies

Achieving the goal of an 83 percent reduction in US carbon dioxide (CO2) emissionsfrom 2005 levels by 2050 will require the electricity sector—which accounts for roughly 40 percent of US CO2 emissions—to make an enormous pivot away from fossil fuels toward non-emitting sources. Policy will be required to achieve this goal. In a recent RFF […]

Preserving Flexibility

Decisions EPA is making today will have a major impact on the cost-effectiveness of its planned move to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. The agency has proposed and will soon finalize performance standards for new power plants. These new-source standards are a prerequisite for the planned existing-source standards, but are ostensibly otherwise unrelated […]

Identifying “Known Unknowns” in the Natural Gas Revolution

Last week, my colleagues and I released a new RFF report, The Natural Gas Revolution: Critical Questions for a Sustainable Energy Future. At one point, I began referring to this document as the “Known Unknowns” report, in reference to a widely quoted Donald Rumsfeld speech. As the former secretary of defense noted, there are certain […]

Resources Magazine: Negotiating a Post-2020 Climate Agreement in a Mosaic World

As we approach the end game serious negotiations for a post-2020 international climate regime, Brian Flannery describes the difficult road ahead. Architects of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol believed it would usher in a long-term, top-down process for mitigating climate change, with a growing set of nations taking on increasingly ambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets and carbon markets playing […]

Research Questions for the Midterm CAFE Review: The Fuel Efficiency Gap

This is the second in a series of blog posts by RFF’s transportation team that will address some of the key research questions for the midterm CAFE review. As the first post in this series described, US standards for passenger vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions are slated to tighten steeply. By 2025, the […]

A Tale of Two Parks (In One)

Without intending to, the team of civil servants that in 1990 created Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) launched a forest conservation policy experiment. In an ecologically rich region where ranchers and farmers were illegally clearing forests at an astounding clip, they established a huge (two million hectare) protected area with two distinct management regimes—a core […]

Gauging the Distributional Consequences of Public Policies

Although we know that public policies have different effects across a population, examination of the distributional effects has been largely neglected. Instead, the principal criteria now used in public policy assessments are measurements of net benefits, which estimate the sum of a policy’s benefits minus its costs, and benefit–cost ratios. But using these criteria can […]

Research Questions for the Midterm CAFE Review

Our country is about to enter the most important period this decade for the future of transportation and its associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Fuel economy and GHG standards for both light-duty vehicles and heavier trucks are slated to tighten, reducing not only oil use but also GHG emissions. There is significant uncertainty about how […]