Cost of Carbon Cap and Trade on the U.S. Economy
Cap and trade is a market approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The government sets a cap for a particular pollutant and then allows companies to negotiate among themselves on how to meet the limit; those that are most efficient at reducing emissions are rewarded for doing so.
A reliable resource on cap and trade is a 2008 Environmental Defense Fund study, “What Will It Cost to Protect Ourselves from Global Warming? The Impacts on the U.S. Economy of a Cap-and-Trade Policy for Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” The report is a comprehensive analysis of the leading economic modeling of cap-and-trade legislation to combat climate change. It is a meta-study in the sense that it is not original research but is instead an analysis of different research studies conducted by reputable academic economists.
Key findings of the analysis include:
- The overall cost of capping greenhouse gases for the average American family will amount to less than 1% of household budgets over the next two decades.
- The total number of jobs affected by climate policy in the manufacturing sector over 20 years is substantially below the number of jobs created and destroyed in the sector every three months.
- Household electricity and natural-gas bills rise by only a few dollars a month over the next few decades well within the rise and fall homeowners already experience.
Tags: carbon, global warming, greenhouse gases, metastudy
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
Read the Environmental Defense Fund study titled "What Will It Cost to Protect Ourselves from Global Warming? The Impacts on the U.S. Economy of a Cap-and-Trade Policy for Greenhouse Gas Emissions."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related Washington Post article titled "Is This Green Enough? We Can Clean Up Our Act, But It'll Cost Us."
- If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the Environmental Defense Fund study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.