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Choosing a set of policy responses to mitigate greenhouse gases (GHGs) responsible for climate change is one of the great challenges that the United States faces in the coming years. Many policy options emphasize overall cost-effectiveness in reducing GHG emissions. In the search for options that are effective and politically feasible, however, other concerns have comparable importance. Mitigating GHGs in practice will require balancing cost-effectiveness and other objectives that reflect the institutional and political realities of passing major federal legislation with widespread impacts on U.S. producers and consumers. This paper develops a framework for evaluating GHG-mitigation policy in the United States that balances several criteria. It draws on conceptual analysis and examples from U.S. energy policy to motivate an evaluative framework that incorporates a range of views of what constitutes “good” policy. It should be of interest to stakeholders in the GHG policymaking process and especially to those responsible for crafting U.S. climate policy.

This Occasional Paper results from the RAND Corporation's continuing program of self-initiated independent research. Support for such research is provided, in part, by the generosity of RAND's donors and by the fees earned on client-funded research.

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