U.S. Energy & Climate Roadmap

Evidence-based, practical policies to tackle today’s greatest energy and climate challenges.

No longer a problem for the distant future, the costs of climate change—wildfire, storm and flood damages, disruptions to agriculture, changes to insurance markets, and more—are already adding up and taking a toll on the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Americans. These costs disproportionately fall on communities of color and America’s economically vulnerable, who are already contending with higher exposure to local pollutants. At the same time, as the country works to restart its economy following the COVID-19 pandemic, energy must remain inexpensive and reliable, capable of fueling a robust recovery.

The U.S. Energy & Climate Roadmap aims to inform climate and energy policy in the new administration and Congress through a compilation of evidence-based proposals from scholars at EPIC. It is grounded in empirical research that has been galvanized by rigorous academic debate and channeled into practical policy applications.

“Many excellent ideas are developed through the inquiry and criticism of academia, but end up in journals on dusty library shelves. With this book, we’re taking those ideas, making them practical for the real world, and delivering them to policymakers.”

Michael Greenstone, Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics; Director, EPIC; Director, Becker Friedman Institute

What They're Saying View All
Building on the foundations laid in the Obama administration, President Biden and the new Congress have made addressing climate change—its causes and its unequal effects—a central priority. EPIC’s Roadmap offers both bodies a robust suite of policies to drive down the sources of climate change. By making the most of every public dollar invested in this historic effort, EPIC’s proposals can help ensure that the United States has the biggest impact, for the most people, over the fastest timeframe possible.
Carol Browner
Former Director, White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy; Former Administrator, U.S. EPA; Senior Counselor, Albright Stonebridge Group
The Biden administration and Congressional leaders in both parties would be wise to follow this insightful roadmap for sound energy and climate policy delivered by EPIC at the University of Chicago. The ideas and policies outlined here are clearly explained and if adopted, would make the United States the world leader in the transition to a decarbonized economy. This is a worthwhile read for anyone who cares about securing a healthy and prosperous future for rising generations.
Carlos Curbelo
Former U.S. Representative (R, FL-26)
The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago is leading U.S. academic institutions in presenting evidence-based, fair, practical public polices. The Biden administration is fortunate to have this U.S. Energy & Climate Roadmap available. It will influence the public debate in the administration, the Congress, and the public on the best way forward for the nation.
John Deutch
Former Undersecretary of Energy; Former Director, CIA; Emeritus Institute Professor, MIT
In this must-read volume for analysts and decision-makers about climate policy, Michael Greenstone and his EPIC colleagues bridge significant scholarship and current policy debates. From the social cost of carbon to new thoughts on pricing carbon to improving fuel economy standards to dealing with stranded costs of legacy coal, the book offers evidence-based ideas at a moment in which policy is and should be attentive to them.
Glenn Hubbard
Former Chair, White House Council of Economic Advisers; Russell L. Carson Professor of Economics and Finance, Columbia University
EPIC’s Roadmap is grounded in empirical research but mindful of political realities, a winning combination if we are to make significant and timely progress on limiting climate change. The administration and Congress should pay attention to its cost-effective, practical recommendations.
Ernest Moniz
Former Secretary of Energy; CEO, Energy Futures Initiative
Climate change is the most formidable risk humanity faces, and there is no time to waste in tackling it. EPIC’s Roadmap provides a sharp, direct set of tools that can help shape regulatory and market conditions in the United States and around the world, allowing us to reduce carbon emissions and grow the economy at the same time. Policymakers, industry leaders, and citizens alike should read this book carefully as Washington focuses its attention on these urgent issues.
Henry M. Paulson
Former Secretary of Treasury; Founder and Chairman, Paulson Institute
...EPIC’s Energy & Climate Roadmap offers thoughtful proposals that put us on a path to a safe and stable climate and a strong, just and equitable economy powered by investment and innovation. This is a valuable read for every policymaker and, indeed, for any citizen seeking to lobby their government on this critical issue.
John Podesta
Former Counselor, President Barack Obama (Climate Policy Lead); Former Chief of Staff, President William J. Clinton; Founder and a Member of the Board of Directors, Center for American Progress
“An important, timely book based on rigorous, fact-based research with concrete policy proposals to confront the costs and risks of climate change while ensuring affordable and reliable energy essential to a sustained and inclusive economic recovery. The proposals include a national carbon price reflecting the social cost of carbon along with standards and regulations in key energy using and consuming sectors. Most of the investment and innovation required to address the dual challenges of energy and climate will be made by businesses and consumers, but policies will shape their incentives and actions.”
Laura Tyson
Former Director, White House National Economic Council; Distinguished Professor, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

Chapters

Effects & Costs of Climate Change
  • Amir Jina
    The effects of climate change will be different across the country, with some of the worst impacts falling on already-disadvantaged regions.
  • Tamma Carleton, Michael Greenstone
    Policymakers could immediately return to the Obama Administration’s social cost of carbon approach paired with a more appropriate discount rate that together would produce a social cost of $125 per metric ton, followed by a comprehensive update to ensure the metric rests on frontier knowledge.
Economy-Wide Approaches
  • Michael Greenstone, Ishan Nath
    Enacting a national, market-based framework to put a price on carbon can achieve ambitious climate change goals while minimizing the cost to the American economy.
  • David Weisbach, Samuel Kortum
    A simple, clearly legal, and more effective alternative to border tax adjustments could be to tax domestic extraction along with border adjustments on imports and exports of energy.
A Sector-by-Sector Approach
  • Steve Cicala
    To facilitate building a nationwide high voltage direct current grid, the federal government could simultaneously assert FERC’s primary role in transmission permitting and encourage the upgrading and re-use of existing rights of way.
  • Michael Greenstone, Ishan Nath
    A national Clean Electricity Standard that is flexible, technology neutral, and linked to carbon reduction policies in other sectors could go a long way in decarbonizing the power sector.
  • Robert Rosner, Rebecca Lordan-Perret
    Nuclear power could be important to decarbonizing the power sector, but first nuclear plant design, manufacturing and construction processes should be improved and efforts should be made to confront market failures and public trust.
  • Fiona Burlig
    Funding should be allocated to the energy efficiency programs that are most cost-effective based on independent and rigorous real-world evaluations.
  • Koichiro Ito
    To make fuel economy standards more efficient and effective, policymakers could eliminate both size and type distinctions, establish a transparent trading market, and bring emissions testing under the direct supervision of regulators.
  • Mark Templeton
    Regulators should consider coal’s full social costs when deciding whether to approve new mines and power plant emissions limits and address legacy environmental issues at sites while giving coal workers the opportunity to help clean up closed mines and plants.
  • Thom Covert, Ryan Kellogg
    Federal mineral leasing could deliver higher returns for taxpayers and better protect the environment if policymakers increased royalty rates and minimum bids, eliminated deductions, shortened primary terms, and strengthen bonding requirements.

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Download the U.S. Energy & Climate Roadmap as a PDF below, or navigate the Chapters section above to download an individual chapter.
Media Contact

Vicki Ekstrom High
Sr. Director, Communications & External Engagement
Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC)
vekstrom@uchicago.edu

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