Dr. Kaufman's Committee Testimony Supports CCL’s Approach To Climate Policy

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a114e18d528aca76901fbbc4ba1d1d98-huge-snBy Jerry Hinkle, CCL Research Coordinator

On December 5th, Dr. Noah Kaufman, Research Scholar at Columbia’s Center for Global Energy Policy, testified before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on “Solutions for Economy-Wide Deep Decarbonization.”  His testimony reflected the independent views of one of the country’s leading experts on climate policy (see his statement starting at 37:36), and it makes clear that H.R. 763 is a well-designed policy that is good for the economy and society. 

Dr. Kaufman included the following key points in his testimony:

Urgency of U.S. Climate Legislation: Dr. Kaufman started by highlighting that “no other country, particularly in the developing world, will adopt strategies consistent with net zero emissions targets unless the United States commits to its own comprehensive climate strategy.”  

Innovation Alone Will Not Work: Dr. Kaufman emphasized that “focusing on technological progress alone [i.e., innovation] will not work.”  In one best-case scenario, reductions through innovation alone would decline by less than one-third over the next few decades.

The Need For Carbon Pricing: Dr. Kaufman affirmed that “a carbon price should be part of a comprehensive climate policy...[because it] would achieve large emissions reductions at a small cost.”  As a result, “studies suggest roughly zero impacts on the overall growth of the U.S. economy,” and these studies “ignore the economic benefits of avoided regulations and the innovation stimulated by the carbon price,” as well as the climate and health benefits from the policy.  Dr. Kaufman made clear that polices that dictate how emissions are to be reduced, such as most regulations, will achieve reductions at much greater costs, and this may detract from their popularity and sustainability.  

Dr. Kaufman concluded that “for any policymaker with the goals of deep decarbonization and a strong economy, putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions is a no brainer...By implementing a comprehensive suite of climate polices, including carbon prices that are designed for consistency with emissions targets, the United States can put itself on a pathway to deep decarbonization while meeting the growing demands on its energy system and lands and maintaining a thriving economy.” 

Posted by Brett Cease on Dec 6, 2019 12:58 PM America/Los_Angeles


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Brilliant!  Thank you for the summary, Jerry!
  • Posted Wed 11 Dec 2019 02:09 PM PST
Thanks for posting this, Brett. The ranking Rep. member needs something to get him on our side, but he brings up a good point: If Asia/pacific is building new coal plants, can we meet the Paris targets as a planet if we pass HR763? Would the border adjustment be enough to incentivize other counties to meet the same targets? And the boarder adjustment is only if they meet the targets through an equivalent carbon price, correct? And only on fuels and carbon intensive goods, so they could still out compete "the west" in other products... Do you think the US and others meeting targets, when that happens, will have to sanction countries that don't?

  • Posted Mon 09 Dec 2019 06:06 PM PST
Great questions John! 
1. The Energy Innovation Act continues to put the US on track to exceed its Paris climate reductions, for 
2. That's the plan: https://citizensclimatelobby.org/laser-talks/border-tax-adjustment/
3. Correct and see the Understanding Border Carbon Adjustments training for more information.
4.  I don't think sanctions will be the next step - if there are disputes needing to be resolved here's the steps from the training outlined above:

What happens when one country thinks another is violating its treaty obligations?

  • A panel of the WTO makes a determination.

  • If the non-compliant country can change its measure, it does.

  • If not, the other country can use equivalent countervailing measures.

  • Posted Tue 10 Dec 2019 11:02 AM PST
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