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Effectiveness of state climate and energy policies in reducing power-sector CO2 emissions


States have historically been the primary drivers of climate change policy in the US, particularly with regard to emissions from power plants. States have implemented policies designed either to directly curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants, or to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy growth. With the federal government withdrawing from the global climate agreement, understanding which state-level policies have successfully mitigated power-plant emissions is urgent. Past research has assessed policy effectiveness using data for periods before the adoption of many policies. We assess 17 policies using the latest data on state-level power-sector CO2 emissions. We find that policies with mandatory compliance are reducing power-plant emissions, while voluntary policies are not. Electric decoupling, mandatory GHG registry/reporting and public benefit funds are associated with the largest reduction in emissions. Mandatory GHG registry/reporting and public benefit funds are also associated with a large reduction in emissions intensity.

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Fig. 1: Carbon dioxide emissions (in million metric tonnes (MMT) per year) from the power sector in each state in 2014, ranked from lowest to highest.
Fig. 2: Coefficient estimate in million tonnes of CO2 emissions (MMTCO2) per year for each of the state-level policies tested individually.


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Correspondence to Eri Saikawa.

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Martin, G., Saikawa, E. Effectiveness of state climate and energy policies in reducing power-sector CO2 emissions. Nature Clim Change 7, 912–919 (2017).

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