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influence decisions by individuals and organizations and include
taxes and subsidies on production factors (carbon tax, fuel tax)
and on products and other outputs (emission taxes, product taxes),
financial inducements (tax credits, subsidies), and transferable
emission rights (tradable emission reductions, tradable
Interventions at all levels could effectively reduce greenhouse
warming. For example, individuals could reduce energy consumption,
recycle goods, and reduce consumption of deleterious materials.
Local governments could control emissions from buildings, transport
fleets, waste processing plants, and landfill dumps. State
governments could restructure electric utility pricing structures
and stimulate a variety of efficiency incentives. National
governments could pursue action in most of the policy areas of
relevance. International organizations could coordinate programs in
various parts of the world, manage transfers of resources and
technologies, and facilitate exchange of monitoring and other
The choice of policy instrument depends on the objective to be
served. Although this analysis of mitigation options does not
include all possibilities, the panel is hopeful that it does
identify the most promising options. This analysis provides the
beginnings of a structure and, a process for identifying those
strategies that could appropriately mitigate the prospect of
There is a potential to inexpensively reduce or offset
greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In particular, the
maximum feasible potential reduction for the options labeled "net
benefit" and "low cost" in Table 6.2 totals about 3.6 billion tons
(3.6 Gt) of CO2-equivalent emissions
per year. (Here, as elsewhere in the report, tons are metric.) This
is a little more than one-third of the total 1990 greenhouse gas
emissions in the United States and represents an optimistic upper
bound on what could be achieved using these options.
A lower bound can be estimated from Figure 6.4. Arbitrarily
using a cutoff of between $10 and $20 per ton of CO2-equivalent emission reduction would
produce a level of about 1 Gt of CO2-equivalent emissions per year, or a
little more than 10 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions in
the United States.
This analysis suggests that the United States could reduce its
greenhouse gas emissions by between 10 and 40 percent of the 1990
level at very low cost. Some reductions may even be at a net
savings if the proper policies are implemented.