Examining Complex and Interacting Policies

While many policy analyses, such as benefit-cost, assume rather generic policy instruments (e.g., a single tax on GHG emissions or a single cap-and-trade policy that applies to all fossil fuel consumption in the nation uniformly), actual policies are much more complex. They also interact with other climate and nonclimate policies at different scales and jurisdictions and their institutional design and implementation critically shapes their effectiveness (Young, 2002a). Previous National Research Council reports and the international community have detailed the research agenda in this area (see in particular Biermann et al., 2009b; NRC, 2005a, 2008h).

Three key topics emerge from these analyses and our own assessment of the challenges faced by policy analysis in supporting climate change decision making: introducing realistic complexity into analyses of climate policy, coordinating across levels of government, and equity and distributional issues. These topics are explored in the paragraphs that follow.

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