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The Plain Bad Economics of Today’s Energy Prices

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, recently launched the latest book in a series on what good fiscal policy should look like in a world of environmental externalities.

The message was clear: Ministers of finance and economics should design their tax systems skillfully so as to tax bad things, like pollution and congestion, rather than good things like work and profit. Not to do so is plain, bad economics.

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The Price Is Wrong: New Report Calls for Fossil Fuel Prices that Reflect Environmental Costs

A new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Getting Energy Prices Right: From Principle to Practice, argues that the costs of coal, natural gas, gasoline, and diesel fail to account for these fuels’ environmental and social impacts—such as greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and traffic deaths.

Setting prices that reflect these side effects—through taxes, licensing, or cap-and-trade systems—could reduce deaths from fossil fuel-related air pollution by 63 percent, decrease global carbon dioxide emissions by 23 percent, and generate revenues totaling about 2.6 percent of global GDP.

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7 Charts Explain Changing U.S. Power Sector Emissions

Where do U.S. power sector emissions come from? And how have they changed over time?

Today, WRI released an update of its U.S. state GHG emissions data via CAIT 2.0, our climate data explorer. These and other data provide valuable context in light of the EPA's newly proposed emissions standards for U.S. power plants.

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EPA’s New Clean Power Plan Is Both Achievable and Economically Beneficial

The EPA's proposed rule to cut carbon pollution from power plants is a critical step in avoiding the worst consequences of global warming. Without significant reductions from the power sector—America’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions—the country cannot meet its goal of reducing its emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. EPA’s proposal provides a flexible framework that puts those reductions within reach.

Here’s a look at how the proposed rule would impact states and the future of U.S. climate action.

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