Clean Energy Futures: Many Paths, Different Outcomes

A multi-institution project seeks to inform policymakers by analyzing 10 policy approaches to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the electricity sector.

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Oct. 29, 2020


Charles Driscoll, Jr., Kathy Fallon Lambert, Dallas Burtraw, Maya Domeshek, Amelia Keyes, Qasim Mehdi, Armistead "Ted" Russell, Huizhong Shen, Petros Vasilakos, and Peter Wilcoxen


Issue Brief

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1 minute


The Context

US energy policy is at a crossroads and policy options for addressing carbon emissions from the electricity sector are front and center in national conversations about climate change. At the same time, electrification of the transportation, building, and industrial sectors has emerged as a central strategy for decarbonizing the US economy. With this transition, electricity sector policy will strongly influence US carbon emissions, air quality, and related impacts on human and ecosystem health.

The Clean Energy Futures Project

The Clean Energy Futures Project aims to quantify the carbon emissions, costs, and air quality outcomes of contrasting electricity sector policies that are relevant to current national discussions. The results will provide policymakers with rigorous and timely research for decision making.

The Clean Energy Futures project is a multi-institutional research initiative with collaborators from Syracuse University; the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Resources for the Futures; and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Key Insights

  • Clean energy policies that reach low- or zero-carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2040 to 2050 are achievable at a cost of about 15% above baseline and generate climate and health benefits that far exceed the moderate policy costs. 
  • By comparison, the existing Affordable Clean Energy rule does little to address carbon dioxide emissions nationally and is projected to increase carbon and co-pollutant emissions in many states.
  • National policy design matters to the timing and magnitude of carbon emissions reductions, costs, and air quality in individual states.


Charles Driscoll, Jr.

University Professor of Environmental Systems and Distinguished Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Syracuse University

Kathy Fallon Lambert

Senior Advisor, Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Qasim Mehdi

PhD candidate, Syracuse University

Armistead "Ted" Russell

Regents Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology

Huizhong Shen

Postdoctoral Fellow, Georgia Institute of Technology

Petros Vasilakos

Postdoctoral Fellow, Georgia Institute of Technology

Peter Wilcoxen

Professor, Director of the Center of Environmental Policy and Administration, Maxwell School, Syracuse University

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