BEYOND CARBON MITIGATION: UNDERSTANDING THE CO-BENEFITS AND CO-COSTS OF GREENHOUSE GAS MITIGATION POLICIES IN BROADER CONTEXTS
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The use of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is firmly entrenched in U.S. policy-making and other regulatory processes. The validity of CBA relies on the systematic and comprehensive understanding of the co-benefits and co-costs associated with the public policy evaluated. However, we still don’t have a complete picture or a thorough understanding of the broader impacts of public policies on energy and the environment, especially carbon mitigation policies. Notably, the recent developments from the federal governments have attracted more attention to revisiting the concepts. To address the gaps in understanding the broader impacts of energy policies, this dissertation expands existing research on energy and environment policies by providing more empirical evidence and advanced systematic quantification frameworks. In general, this study highlights critical relationships in intricate modeling systems, thereby enabling insights that might otherwise be obfuscated or overlooked. By applying complex integrated models of energy policies, climate systems, and health evaluations, this dissertation enhances a better understanding of the complexity of features that influence policy markets in the energy-related economy. The three case studies cover the systematic and comprehensive quantifications of co-benefits and co-costs in various sectors and scopes (air quality and health, sectoral and macroeconomic activities). The first study applies integrated macroeconomics and air quality model to evaluate the impacts of relaxing the energy policies on the unintended environmental consequences, ozone standard attainments. The results demonstrate that a relaxation of the energy policies under the Trump administration would significantly increase the ozone levels in many counties, inducing considerable health costs. The impacts are more prominent when considering the synergistic effect of dramatic climate change. Overall, the study demonstrates the critical need to conduct assessments of energy policies in the context of the global climate system, to consider the impacts on local air quality and associated health benefits and costs. The second study focuses on a case of the sectoral economic activities – quantifying the impacts of electric vehicle mandates on grid operations under the current infrastructures and grid management practices of the electric power sector. This chapter explores the benefits and costs of EV-related policies on the electric power grid when the infrastructures are locked-in, and the technological innovations are limited in practice. The third study expands the scope to demonstrate the long-term societal macroeconomic impacts. This chapter targets the impacts of the EV sales mandates beyond the direct effects on the transportation and electric power sectors, including the indirect and induced effects on all sectors through macro-economic activities. Overall, the two studies indicate significant potentials for the grid and other sectors to adapt and reduce both the costs and carbon emissions. The results call for policymakers to move beyond sectoral narratives, adopt a holistic and systematic view, and design policies with great care to address the regional heterogeneity and equity concerns.