Attaching a Price to Greenhouse Gas Emissions with a Carbon Tax or Emissions Fee: Considerations and Potential Impacts

Attaching a Price to Greenhouse Gas Emissions with a Carbon Tax or Emissions Fee: Considerations and Potential Impacts.  Congressional Research Service. Jonathan L. Ramseur, Jane A. Leggett. March 22, 2019

The U.S. Fourth National Climate Assessment, released in 2018, concluded that “the impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.” Members of Congress and stakeholders articulate a wide range of perspectives over what to do, if anything, about GHG emissions, future climate change, and related impacts. If Congress were to consider establishing a program to reduce GHG emissions, one option would be to attach a price to GHG emissions with a carbon tax or GHG emissions fee. In the 115th Congress, Members introduced nine bills to establish a carbon tax or emissions fee program. However, many Members have expressed their opposition to such an approach. In particular, in the 115th Congress, the House passed a resolution “expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy.”

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Creating a New Marketplace for Resilient Infrastructure Investment

Creating a New Marketplace for Resilient Infrastructure Investment. Brookings Institution. Joseph Kane and Adie Tomer. March 18, 2019

Climate change is getting harder to ignore, from alarming new reports about its impacts to debates around a Green New Deal. Yet for all this attention, individual places—from the biggest cities to the smallest towns—are still struggling to do something about it.

An unpredictable climate should serve as a strong motivator for every community to better maintain its manmade and natural stormwater infrastructure to be more flexible and responsive. Increased flood risks are among the clearest challenges, with climate change already having generated billions of dollars in flooding costs. But as we saw in Houston during Hurricane Harvey—and in several other places along the Gulf Coast, Mississippi River, and beyond over the past few years—many communities currently have failing systems of water pipes, plants, and natural wetlands. Even more troubling is how communities cannot even handle runoff from daily rainfall, as well as additional pollution.

Communities need a new approach to accelerate investment in infrastructure that is resilient to growing climate pressures. They should carry out proactive repairs of their aging, inefficient stormwater systems as a way to deliver fiscal savings and long-term environmental and economic benefits. They also should invest in new technologies and green infrastructure to better protect properties and improve livability. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Climate Change Impacts on Power Systems

Climate Change Impacts on Power Systems. YaleGlobal. Debabrata Chattopadhyay, Morgan D. Bazilian and Mohar Chattopadhyay. February 5, 2019

Climate change threatens all industries with storms, wildfires, droughts, heat waves and rising seas, and the energy industry has no special standing. “Together, these risks can lead to power outages, increased electricity prices and increased maintenance, and capital costs – along with damaging economic, environmental, and public health consequences,” explain Debabrata Chattopadhyay, Morgan Bazilian and Mohar Chattopadhyay. “Growing evidence now suggests the entire energy supply chain, particularly power generation transmission and distribution, is vulnerable to climate change and disaster events.” Pacific Gas & Electric Company declared bankruptcy following the fierce wildfires that tore through Northern California in November, and other power companies in places as diverse as the New York metropolitan region and Bangladesh prepare. The three researchers call for a resilience-focused approach: hardening power systems, anticipating climate risks for any planning and investments, and relying on state-of-the-art technologies for adaptation. The power industry is large, complex and essential, and the writers urge equal attention on mitigation and adaptation. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Climate Change Still Seen as the Top Global Threat, but Cyberattacks a Rising Concern

Climate Change Still Seen as the Top Global Threat, but Cyberattacks a Rising Concern. Pew Research Center. Jacob Poushter and Christine Huang. February 10, 2019

Worries about ISIS and North Korea persist, as fears about American power grow

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report last year expressing serious concerns about the possible impacts of climate change, both in the near and distant future. Broadly speaking, people around the world agree that climate change poses a severe risk to their countries, according to a 26-nation survey conducted in the spring of 2018. In 13 of these countries, people name climate change as the top international threat.
But global warming is just one of many concerns. Terrorism, specifically from the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS, and cyberattacks are also seen by many as major security threats. In eight of the countries surveyed, including Russia, France, Indonesia and Nigeria, ISIS is seen as the top threat. In four nations, including Japan and the United States, people see cyberattacks from other countries as their top international concern. One country, Poland, names Russia’s power and influence as its top threat, but few elsewhere say Russia is a major concern. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Must the Energy Transition Be Slow?Not Necessarily

Must the Energy Transition Be Slow? Not Necessarily. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Nikos Tsafos. September 17, 2018.

 The world needs to shift its energy system to meet its climate targets. The growth in energy demand must slow, and the carbon emitted from that energy must decline. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Transforming Agriculture for Climate Resilience: A Framework for Systemic Change

Transforming Agriculture for Climate Resilience: A Framework for Systemic Change. World Resources Institute. Rebecca Carter, Tyler Ferdinand and Christina Chan.  October 2018

 Transformative approaches to adaptation in agriculture will be needed to maintain and enhance global food security, avoid maladaptation and reduce growing risks of crisis and conflict. Today, the agriculture sector practices adaptation with relatively limited incremental adjustments to existing systems to better manage current climate variability and cope with near-term climate risks. Increasingly, severe climate impacts are beginning to test the limits of what we can adapt to through such relatively minor adjustments. These impacts will increasingly require more dramatic shifts at greater scale, speed, and intensity to manage risk, strengthen food security and protect lives and livelihoods—especially among the poorest and most vulnerable, who often depend on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, fishing and tourism.

This working paper explores the concept of transformative adaptation for agriculture and why it is needed. It looks at how transformative outcomes could be achieved by aligning adaptation projects along pathways and adjusting planning processes to incorporate longer-term, more systemic approaches. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 24 pages].

The Costs of Climate Change

The Costs of Climate Change. YaleGlobal. Kenneth Gillingham. October 18, 2018

 Economic models allow societies to analyze complex problems and make sensible decisions. Yale University Professor William Nordhaus has been named winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics for his research on models that integrate climate change into long-term economic analysis. Paul Romer of New York University was also named for his work on endogenous growth theory. Kenneth Gillingham of Yale University reflects on Nordhaus’ profound contributions to the field of economics – and to society more broadly – that led to this recognition, explaining that “Nordhaus laid the groundwork for what is now an entire field on the economics of climate change.” The research analyzes how climate change can be mitigated at the lowest-cost possible, what the optimal climate policy is, and how society’s choices about climate mitigation can influence long-run well-being. Gillingham concludes that Nordhaus’ work is global in scope and visionary, dedicated to preparing societies for what may be the most pressing challenge of our time. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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