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PrefaceThere is a growing scientific consensus that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide(CO 2 ) and other greenhouse gases, which result from the burning of fossil fuels, are graduallywarming the Earth’s climate. The amount of damage associated with that warming remainsuncertain, but there is some risk that it could be large and perhaps even catastrophic.Reducing that risk would require restraining the growth of CO 2 emissions—and ultimatelylimiting those emissions to a level that would stabilize atmospheric concentrations—whichwould involve costs that are also uncertain but could be substantial.The most efficient approaches to reducing emissions of CO 2 involve giving businesses andhouseholds an economic incentive for such reductions. Such an incentive could be providedin various ways, including a tax on emissions, a cap on the total annual level of emissionscombined with a system of tradable emission allowances, or a modified cap-and-tradeprogram that includes features to constrain the cost of emission reductions that would beundertaken in an effort to meet the cap. This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study—prepared at the request of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and NaturalResources—compares those policy options on the basis of three key criteria: their potential toreduce emissions efficiently, to be implemented with relatively low administrative costs, andto create incentives for emission reductions that are consistent with incentives in othercountries. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, the reportcontains no recommendations.The study was written by Terry Dinan of CBO’s Microeconomic Studies Division under theguidance of Joseph Kile and David Moore. Robert Dennis, Douglas Hamilton, RobertShackleton, and Thomas Woodward provided comments. Outside CBO, William Pizer ofResources for the Future, Reid Harvey of the Environmental Protection Agency, and MartinWeitzman of Harvard University provided comments. (The assistance of external reviewersimplies no responsibility for the final product, which rests solely with CBO.)Christine Bogusz and Christian Howlett edited the study, Sherry Snyder proofread it, andAngela McCollough prepared the final draft of the manuscript. Maureen Costantino preparedthe study for publication, designed the cover, and took the photograph of the traffic on thecover. Lenny Skutnik printed copies of the study, Linda Schimmel handled the distribution,and Simone Thomas prepared the electronic version for CBO’s Web site (www.cbo.gov).February 2008Peter R. OrszagDirector

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