Paris marked an unprecedented political commitment to reduce the threat of climate change. The plans submitted by more than 180 countries are a clear indication what needs to be done. Marrakech is the moment to move from what we must do to how we will do it. This is the time to answer that question.

Climate change poses serious threats to the environment and society. Fortunately, a clean, sustainable future is within our grasp. But for this to happen, the pledges made last year in Paris must be translated into policy that will achieve the necessary emissions reductions. Decades of experimenting with and implementing energy and environmental policies have demonstrated which policies are most effective at curbing emissions. Executing these policies in the highest emitting sectors and countries can steer the world away from imminent climate catastrophe and toward a low-carbon future.

Given the importance of the gathering in Marrakech right now, we are temporarily sharing draft versions of some of our newest resources on how to design and implement policies to meet the world’s climate goals. The draft collection includes papers emphasizing the imperative for climate action, assessing the most crucial countries and sectors to target, and describing how to choose the most effective policies so climate goals are achieved. The draft collection also features design guides for four of the world’s top energy policies: 1) carbon pricing, 2) vehicle performance standards, 3) vehicle and fuel fees and feebates, and 4) urban mobility policies. These represent just a sampling of the guides we are currently producing; more will be coming soon, so please contact us if you would like to provide any input or feedback.

Foundational papers

Energy Policy Solutions: Policies That Work

15 pages; 745 KB
ptw_coverThe scope, scale, and irreversibility of climate change together mean swift action to abate carbon dioxide emissions is crucial. Though the need to address climate change is urgent, doing so is by no means insurmountable: We have the technology and experience to move toward a clean energy future. This paper describes the types of policies and best practices for policy design to ensure the world lands on smart climate and energy choices.

The Imperative to Act on Climate Today

12 pages; 1.4 MB
motivationalpaper_coverClimate change poses an existential threat to the environment and society. Though a certain amount of climate-related damage is locked in, this hardly means the fight is over: There is still an opportunity to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This paper summarizes the science behind climate change, its catastrophic impacts on the earth, and how technological advancements and political successes offer reasons for hope.

Follow the Tons, and Win on Climate

11 pages; 183 KB
dothemath_coverJust 20 countries account for nearly 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with power plants, factories, vehicles, buildings, and deforestation as the primary sources. Emissions reductions from each of these sources, in these countries, can effectively drive down pollution. This paper details how implementing well-designed, targeted climate policies in the highest emitting sectors and countries can put the world on a low-carbon pathway.

Policy-Specific papers

These papers provide a deeper dive into a handful of the most important policies for reducing carbon emissions and meeting climate goals. Each paper begins with a description of the policy, its goal, and when to apply it. The main content of the paper recommends key policy design principles and additional design considerations, which are supported through a final section that provides empirical evidence and case studies of each policy in real world applications.

Carbon Pricing

24 pages; 2.8 MB
carbonpricing_coverSetting a price on carbon is an efficient, transparent method for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Pricing carbon is accomplished either through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program. Both can successfully and cost-effectively reduce carbon emissions with proper design, though carbon pricing is not a silver bullet. It works best when implemented in addition to a package of performance standards for buildings, appliances, vehicles, and other consumer goods and industrial equipment.

Vehicle Performance Standards

13 pages; 280 KB
vehperfstd_coverVehicle performance standards are a powerful tool for increasing the efficiency of newly sold vehicles and overcoming market barriers. Standards should be determined years in advance and continuous improvement should be built in. They should be technology-neutral and written simply, reducing opportunities for gaming. Successful examples like Japan’s Top Runner program demonstrate the savings vehicle performance standards can realize when designed well.

Vehicle and Fuel Fees and Feebates

13 pages; 180 KB
vehfuelfees_coverFees on fuel and inefficient new vehicles are among the best policies for reducing emissions from on-road vehicles, which make up 71 percent of emissions from the global transportation sector. They can both increase new vehicle fuel economy while also reducing vehicle distance traveled. Fees and feebates should be long-term policies with a publicly known schedule. Fuel fees should reflect all negative externalities caused by these fuels, and should cover all polluting fuels.

Urban Mobility

15 pages; 1.5 MB
urbanmobility_coverWell-designed cities are people-oriented and provide robust transportation options. Smart policies to enable alternative forms of urban mobility can improve quality of life while dramatically cutting transportation emissions. The key policies for excellent urban mobility are well-designed, well-funded public transit; mixed-use and transit-oriented development; measures to facilitate biking and walking; compact and infill development; and car control.


Image source: Marrakech, Morocco (YoTuT / CC0)