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Emission Reduction Positively Impacted by Policy

Sept. 24, 2014

A new study shows the carbon emission reduction policies individual states have adopted are yielding results.

Coming on the heels of the EPA's announcement of the proposed Clean Power Plan is a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder that shows strategies currently being employed by individual states are effective at reducing carbon emissions. Direct strategies such as hard emission caps and indirect ones such as incentivizing renewable energy were studied using data from 2005 and 2010. 

Under the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Reporting program, power plants are required to submit carbon pollution information, which allows researchers to more accurately measure the effects of individual state policies on actual emissions. While all of the studied policies were found to be effective at reducing the amount of CO2, the study's authors point to emission caps, greenhouse gas targets, efficiency targets, public benefit funds, and electric decoupling as the most helpful policies to mitigate the effects of carbon emissions from power plants. 

"While the world's nations have struggled to agree on how to reduce emissions, sub-national governments have been developing several effective mitigation measures. Leaders at the United Nations would be wise to shift from a top-down strategy that focuses on forging international treaties to a more bottom-up approach that builds upon established policy successes," says Don Grant, lead author of the study. 

While the findings are optimistic, the authors are quick to point out the study's limitations, including the fact that few states use only direct or indirect strategies, meaning the positive results are likely due to a combination of factors rather than a single one. 

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