HKS Authors

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In both his second inaugural and his fifth state of the union addresses this year, President Obama renewed his commitment to address the risk of global climate change, due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, largely (but not exclusively) a consequence of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions linked with burning fossil fuels to generate energy. Given the president’s attempts since his first inauguration in 2009 – and subsequent Congressional failure in 2010 – to establish an economy-wide CO2 cap-and-trade system, it may be valuable to reflect on the Congress’s great success two decades earlier in enacting the path-breaking sulphur dioxide (SO2) allowance-trading programme to cut acid rain by 50%.


Richard Schmalensee, and Robert N. Stavins. "The Sordid History of Congressional Acceptance and Rejection of Cap-and-Trade: Implications for Climate Policy." Vox, March 17, 2013.