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

Nature Climate Changevolume 7pages912919 (2017) | Download Citation


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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  1. Department of Environmental Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA

    • Geoff Martin
    •  & Eri Saikawa
  2. Planning and Development, Town of Hartford, Hartford, 05001, VT, USA

    • Geoff Martin


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Correspondence to Eri Saikawa.

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    Supplementary Information Supplementary Appendices 1–8 and Supplementary References

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