Too Good to Be True? An Examination of Three Economic Assessments of California Climate Change Policy

48 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2007  

Robert N. Stavins

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Resources for the Future; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Judson L. Jaffe

Analysis Group, Inc.

Todd Schatzki

Analysis Group, Inc.

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2007

Abstract

California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 limits California's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2020 to their 1990 level. In 2006, three studies were released indicating that California can meet its 2020 target at no net economic cost - raising questions about whether opportunities truly exist to substantially reduce emissions at no cost, or whether studies reaching such conclusions may simply severely underestimate costs. This paper provides an evaluation of these three California studies. We find that although opportunities may exist for some no-cost emission reductions, these studies substantially underestimate the cost of meeting California's 2020 target by omitting important components of the costs of emission reduction efforts and by overestimating offsetting savings that some of those efforts yield through improved energy efficiency. In some cases, the studies focus on the costs of particular actions to reduce emissions, but fail to consider the effectiveness and costs of policies that would be necessary to bring about such actions.

Keywords: climate change, technological change

JEL Classification: Q20, Q30, Q40

Suggested Citation

Stavins, Robert N. and Jaffe, Judson L. and Schatzki, Todd, Too Good to Be True? An Examination of Three Economic Assessments of California Climate Change Policy (January 2007). AEI-Brookings Joint Center Working Paper No. 07-01; KSG Working Paper No. RWP07-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=973836 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.973836

Robert N. Stavins (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Resources for the Future

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Judson L. Jaffe

Analysis Group, Inc. ( email )

111 Huntington Avenue
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Boston, MA 02199
United States

Todd Schatzki

Analysis Group, Inc. ( email )

111 Huntington Avenue
10th floor
Boston, MA 02199
United States

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