Aldy, J. E., & Stavins, R. N. (2012). Climate Negotiators Create an Opportunity for Scholars. Science , 337, 1043-1044. Full Paper.pdf
Aldy, J. E., & Stavins, R. (2012). The Promise and Problems of Pricing Carbon: Theory and Experience. Journal of Environment and Development , 21 (2), 152-180.Abstract

Because of the global commons nature of climate change, international cooperation among nations will likely be necessary for meaningful action at the global level. At the same time, it will inevitably be up to the actions of sovereign nations to put in place policies that bring about meaningful reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases. Due to the ubiquity and diversity of emissions of greenhouse gases in most economies, as well as the variation in abatement costs among individual sources, conventional environmental policy approaches, such as uniform technology and performance standards, are unlikely to be sufficient to the task. Therefore, attention has increasingly turned to market-based instruments in the form of carbon-pricing mechanisms. We examine the opportunities and challenges associated with the major options for carbon pricing: carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, emission reduction credits, clean energy standards, and fossil fuel subsidy reductions.

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Aldy, J. E., & Stavins, R. N. (2012). Using the Market to Address Climate Change: Insights from Theory and Experience. Daedalus , 141 (2), 45-60.Abstract

Emissions of greenhouse gases linked with global climate change are affected by diverse aspects of economic activity, including individual consumption, business investment, and government spending. An effective climate policy will have to modify the decision calculus for these activities in the direction of more efficient generation and use of energy, lower carbon intensity of energy, and – more broadly – a more carbon-lean economy. The only approach to doing this on a meaningful scale that would be technically feasible and cost-effective is carbon pricing, that is, market-based climate policies that place a shadow-price on carbon dioxide emissions. We examine alternative designs of three such instruments – carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, and clean energy standards. We note that the U.S. political response to possible market-based approaches to climate policy has been and will continue to be largely a function of issues and structural factors that transcend the scope of environmental and climate policy.

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Aldy, J. E., Kotchen, M. J., & Leiserowitz, A. A. (2012). Willingness to Pay and Political Support for a U.S. National Clean Energy Standard. Nature Climate Change , 2 596-599.Abstract

In 2010 and 2011, Republicans and Democrats proposed mandating clean power generation in the electricity sector [1,2,3,]. To evaluate public support for a national clean energy standard (NCES), we conducted a nationally representative survey that included randomized treatments on the sources of eligible power generation and program costs. We find that the average American is willing to pay $162 per year in higher electricity bills (95% confidence interval: $128  $260), representing a 13% increase [4], in support of a NCES that requires 80% clean energy by 2035. Support for a NCES is lower among non‐whites, older individuals, and Republicans. We also employ our statistical model, along with census data for each state and Congressional district [5], to simulate voting behavior on a NCES by Members of Congress assuming they vote consistent with the preferences of their median voter. We estimate that Senate passage of a NCES would require an average household cost below $59 per year, while House passage would require costs below $48 per year. The results imply that an “80% by 2035” NCES could pass both chambers of Congress if it increases electricity rates less than 5% on average.

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Aldy, J. E. (2011). Promoting Clean Energy in the American Power Sector. Environmental Law Reporter , 42, 10131-10149.Abstract

Despite bipartisan interest in advancing American energy policy, comprehensive energy and climate legislation fell short in the Senate last year after passing in the House of Representatives in 2009. The difficulty of coming to broad agreement highlights the need for a more targeted and incremental approach. One promising intermediate step would be a technology-neutral national clean energy standard that applies to the U.S. power sector. This paper proposes a standard that would lower carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 60 percent relative to 2005 levels over twenty years, streamline the fragmented regulatory system that is currently in place, generate fiscal benefits, and help fund energy innovation. Through a simple design and transparent implementation, the National Clean Energy Standard would provide certainty about the economic returns to clean energy that would facilitate investment in new energy projects and lower the emission intensity of the power sector. It would also serve as an ambitious bridge to economy-wide energy and climate policy

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(2011). Real-Time Economic Analysis and Policy Development During the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Vanderbilt Law Review , 64 (6), 1795-1817.Abstract

The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill posed near-term economic risks to the Gulf of Mexico region and raised questions about appropriate policies to mitigate catastrophic oil spill risks. This essay reviews the Obama Administration’s assessment of the economic vulnerabilities to the spill, the Administration’s May 12, 2010 legislative proposal focused on minimizing the adverse economic impacts to workers and small businesses in the Gulf of Mexico, and the effort to secure an agreement with BP to ensure that those harmed by the spill will receive full compensation. Then, the essay discusses several of the policy reforms advanced by the Administration to reduce the risks of future catastrophic oil spills, including the value of an industry consortium to provide deepwater well containment resources and the need to remove the arbitrary limit on liability for economic damages from offshore drilling. The essay closes with a few policy lessons learned from the spill.

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Aldy, J. E., Krupnick, A. J., Newell, R. G., Parry, I. W. H., & Pizer, W. A. (2010). Designing Climate Mitigation Policy. Journal of Economic Literature , 48 (4), 903-934.Abstract

This paper provides (for the nonspecialist) a highly streamlined discussion of the main issues, and controversies, in the design of climate mitigation policy. The first part of the paper discusses how much action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the global level is efficient under both the cost-effectiveness and welfare-maximizing paradigms. We then discuss various issues in the implementation of domestic emissions control policy, instrument choice, and incentives for technological innovation. Finally, we discuss alternative policy architectures at the international level.

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Robinson, L. A., Hammitt, J. K., Aldy, J. E., Krupnick, A., & Baxter, J. (2010). Valuing the Risk of Death from Terrorist Attacks. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management , 7 (1), Article 14.Abstract

Regulations designed to increase homeland security often require balancing large costs against highly uncertain benefits. An important component of these benefits is the reduced risk of fatalities from terrorist attacks. While the risk to an individual appears small, the benefits may be large when aggregated over the population. U.S. regulatory agencies have well-established approaches for valuing mortality risks, but address risks that differ in significant respects from those associated with terrorism. The best available estimates of the value of small risk reductions, expressed as the value per statistical life (VSL), average about $6.5 million. However, terrorism-related risks may be perceived as more dreaded and ambiguous, and less controllable and voluntary, than the workplace risks underlying many VSL estimates. These factors may increase the VSL appropriate for terrorism risks, possibly doubling the value.

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Aldy, J. E., & Stavins, R. N. (2010). Introduction. In J. E. Aldy & R. N. Stavins (Ed.), Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy: Implementing Architectures for Agreement (pp. 1-28) . Cambridge University Press.
Aldy, J. E., & Stavins, R. N. (2010). Lessons for the International Policy Community. In J. E. Aldy & R. N. Stavins (Ed.), Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy: Implementing Architectures for Agreement (pp. 899-929) . Cambridge University Press.
Aldy, J. E. (2009). Comment on Jeffrey A. Frankel’s "Addressing the Leakage/Competitiveness Issue in Climate Change Policy Proposals." In L. Brainard & I. Sorkin (Ed.), Climate Change, Trade and Competitiveness: Is a Collision Inevitable? (pp. 83-88) . Brookings Institution.
Aldy, J. E., & Stavins, R. N. (2009). Introduction and Overview. In J. E. Aldy & R. N. Stavins (Ed.), Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy: Summary for Policymakers (pp. 1-25) . Cambridge University Press.
Aldy, J. E., & Stavins, R. N. (2009). Lessons for the International Policy Community. In J. E. Aldy & R. N. Stavins (Ed.), Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy: Summary for Policymakers (pp. 27-55) . Cambridge University Press.
Aldy, J. E., & Stavins, R. N. (2009). Towards a Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy Regime. In J. Delgado & S. Gardner (Ed.), Beyond Copenhagen: A Climate Policymaker’s Handbook (pp. 53-59) . Bruegel Books.
Aldy, J. E., & Viscusi, W. K. (2008). Adjusting the Value of a Statistical Life for Age and Cohort Effects. Review of Economics and Statistics , 90 (3), 573-581.Abstract

To resolve the theoretical ambiguity in the effect of age on the value of statistical life (VSL), this article uses a novel, age-dependent fatal risk measure to estimate age-specific hedonic wage regressions. VSL exhibits an inverted-U-shaped relationship with age. In the year 2000 cross section, workers’ VSL rises from $3.7 million (ages 18–24) to $9.7 million (35–44), and declines to $3.4 million (55–62). Controlling for birth-year cohort effects in a minimum distance estimator yields a peak VSL of $7.8 million at age 46, and flattens the age-VSL relationship. The value of statistical life-year also follows an inverted-U shape with age.

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Aldy, J. E., & Pizer, W. A. (2008). Issues in Designing U.S. Climate Change Policy. The Energy Journal , 30 (3), 179-210.Abstract

Over the coming decades, the cost of U.S. climate change policy likely will be comparable to the total cost of all existing environmental regulation—perhaps 1–2 percent of national income. In order to avoid higher costs, policy efforts should create incentives for firms and individuals to pursue the cheapest climate change mitigation options over time, among all sectors, across national borders, and in the face of significant uncertainty. Well-designed national greenhouse gas mitigation policies can serve as the foundation for global efforts and as an example for emerging and developing countries. We present six key policy design issues that will determine the costs, cost-effectiveness, and distributional impacts of domestic climate policy: program scope, cost containment, offsets, revenues and allowance allocation, competitiveness, and R&D policy. We synthesize the literature on these design features, review the implications for the ongoing policy debate, and identify outstanding research questions that can inform policy development.

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Aldy, J. E., Ley, E., & Parry, I. W. H. (2008). A Tax-Based Approach to Slowing Global Climate Change. National Tax Journal , 61, 493-517.Abstract

In this paper, we discuss the design of carbon dioxide (CO2) taxes at the domestic and international level and the choice of taxes versus a cap-and-trade system. A strong case can be made for taxes on uncertainty, fiscal, and distributional grounds, though this critically hinges on policy specifics and how revenues are used. The efficient near-term tax is at least $5–$20 per ton of CO2 and the tax should be imposed upstream with incentives for downstream sequestration and abatement of other greenhouse gases. At the international level, a key challenge is the possibility that emissions taxes might be undermined through offsetting changes in other energy policies.

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Aldy, J. E., & Viscusi, W. K. (2007). Age Differences in the Value of Statistical Life: Revealed Preference Evidence. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy , 1 (2), 241-260.Abstract

Revealed preference evidence, especially based on wage-risk tradeoffs in the labor market, provides the primary empirical basis for analyses of the value of statistical life (VSL). This market evidence also provides guidance on how VSL varies with age. While labor market studies have generated conflicting evidence—some showing that VSL rises with age and others showing that VSL declines with age—more refined estimates that take into account the age variation in job fatality risks or life-cycle patterns of consumption show an inverted-U relation between the VSL and age. The value of a statistical life year shows a similar pattern and is not time-invariant. Applying estimates of the VSL-age relationship to an analysis of the Clear Skies initiative illustrates the implications of recognizing the age-VSL relationship.

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Viscusi, W. K., & Aldy, J. E. (2007). Labor Market Estimates of the Senior Discount for the Value of Statistical Life. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management , 53 (3), 377-392.Abstract

This article develops the first measures of age–industry job risks to examine the age variations in the value of statistical life. Because of the greater risk vulnerability of older workers, they face flatter wage-risk gradients than younger workers, which we show to be the case empirically. Accounting for this heterogeneity in hedonic market equilibria leads to estimates of the value of statistical life–age relationship that follows an inverted U shape. The estimates of the value of statistical life range from $6.4 million for younger workers to a peak of $9.0 million for those aged 35–44, and then a decline to $3.8 million for those aged 55–62. The decline of the estimated value of statistical life with age is consistent with there being some senior discount in the Clear Skies Initiative analysis.

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Aldy, J. E., & Stavins, R. N. (2007). Architectures for an International Global Climate Change Agreement: Lessons for the Policy Community. In J. E. Aldy & R. N. Stavins (Ed.), Architectures for Agreement: Addressing Global Climate Change in the Post-Kyoto World (pp. 350-367) . Cambridge University Press.