IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Policies to Reduce CO2 Emissions: Fallacies and Evidence from the United States and California


  • Granados, José A. Tapia
  • Spash, Clive L.


Since the 1990s, advocates of policy to prevent catastrophic climate change have been divided over the appropriate economic instruments to curb CO2 emissions-carbon taxes or schemes of emission trading. Barack Obama claimed that policies implemented during his presidency set in motion irreversible trends toward a clean-energy economy, with the years 2008-2015 given as evidence of decoupling between CO2 emissions and economic growth. This is despite California being the only state in the USA that has implemented a specific policy to curb emissions, a cap-and-trade scheme in place since 2013. To assess Obama's claims and the effectiveness of policies to reduce CO2 emissions, we analyze national and state-level data from the USA over the period 1990-2015. We find: (a) annual changes in emissions strongly correlated with the growth conditions of the economy; (b) no evidence for decoupling; and (c) a trajectory of CO2 emissions in California which does not at all support the claim that the cap-and-trade system implemented there has reduced CO2 emissions.

Suggested Citation

  • Granados, José A. Tapia & Spash, Clive L., 2019. "Policies to Reduce CO2 Emissions: Fallacies and Evidence from the United States and California," SRE-Discussion Papers 2019/04, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wus009:6961

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Yanqiu He & Hongchun Wang & Rou Chen & Shiqi Hou & Dingde Xu, 2022. "The Forms, Channels and Conditions of Regional Agricultural Carbon Emission Reduction Interaction: A Provincial Perspective in China," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(17), pages 1-22, September.
    2. Andrew Adewale Alola & Glory Chiyoru Dike & Uju Violet Alola, 2022. "The Role of Legal System and Socioeconomic Aspects in the Environmental Quality Drive of the Global South," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 163(2), pages 953-972, September.
    3. Shenhai Huang & Chao Du & Xian Jin & Daini Zhang & Shiyan Wen & Yu’an Wang & Zhenyu Cheng & Zhijie Jia, 2022. "The Boundary of Porter Hypothesis: The Energy and Economic Impact of China’s Carbon Neutrality Target in 2060," Energies, MDPI, vol. 15(23), pages 1-18, December.
    4. Ramzan, Muhammad & Abbasi, Kashif Raza & Iqbal, Hafiz Arslan & Adebayo, Tomiwa Sunday, 2023. "What's at Stake? The empirical importance of government revenue and debt and renewable energy for environmental neutrality in the US economy," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 205(C), pages 475-489.
    5. Wu, Rongxin & Tan, Zhizhou & Lin, Boqiang, 2023. "Does carbon emission trading scheme really improve the CO2 emission efficiency? Evidence from China's iron and steel industry," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 277(C).

    More about this item


    Climate change; Cap-and-trade; Carbon emissions trading; Decoupling; Economic growth;
    All these keywords.

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wus009:6961. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: WU Library (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.