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Cutting the Fat Tail of Climate Risk: Carbon Backstop Technologies as a Climate Insurance Policy

by Jeremy Carl, David Fedorvia Analysis
Monday, May 20, 2019

A variety of promising technologies that might be considered “carbon backstops” are now emerging. Such technologies would be impactful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, scalable, and available for rapid deployment—but too expensive to justify broad deployment today. In this paper we consider political, regulatory, and market structure barriers of scaling: (1) small modular nuclear reactors, (2) dispatchable negative emissions through the direct air capture and sequestration or use of carbon dioxide, and (3) other new approaches towards better controlling the composition and behavior of the global atmosphere. In doing so we argue that such technologies already hold significant social carbon “option value” and that, despite high costs, continued investment could improve their credibility as a backstop insurance policy to help reduce the fat-tail risk of severe climate change scenarios.

Featured

Is Russia Preparing A Gas Nuclear Option?

by Paul R. Gregoryvia Forbes
Monday, May 13, 2019

Vladimir Putin is noted for taking surprise action, which confronts his victims with a fait accompli. They must then either accept the new unfavorable status quo or react in a way that they would consider too risky. Putin has employed this playbook in Georgia, Crimea, East Ukraine, Syria, on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea and to prop up the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

In the News

Doing Nothing About Climate Change The Most Expensive Option

mentioning George P. Shultzvia Duluth News Tribune
Sunday, May 12, 2019

A human-caused crisis threatened many of Earth's plant and animal species. The problem was in the atmosphere.

In the News

California High Speed Railway Estimated To Cost $79B: Report

quoting Lee Ohanianvia NTD
Friday, May 3, 2019
A project update report from the California railway authorities has raised the price tag for the Californian rail project to $79 billion.
IntroductionEurekaAnalysis and Commentary

The Road (And Rail And Reservoirs) Ahead: Can California Be Innovative—And Sensible?

by Bill Whalenvia Eureka
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A quick look around the nation shows states making clever, necessary transportation improvements—even if the progress doesn’t occur overnight.

Analysis and Commentary

Bridging The Gap With The Science For Climate Action Network

by Alice Hill, Richard Moss, Bilal Ayyub, Mary Glackin, Katharine L. Jacobs, Jerry Melillo, T. C. Richmond, Lynn Scarlett, Dan Zarrillivia EOS
Thursday, April 4, 2019

A new report identifies missing support that is slowing progress in limiting and adapting to climate change. The Science for Climate Action Network aims to provide it.

IntellectionsFeatured

Nuclear Power: The Clean Energy Everyone Overlooks

by Admiral James O. Ellis Jr. via PolicyEd
Monday, March 25, 2019

As the world continues to shift toward low-carbon energy sources, a closer look makes it clear that nuclear power has to be included in order to reduce carbon emissions. Until the problem of long-term power storage is solved, nuclear will remain the only zero carbon base load power source. Given how clean and reliable it is compared to its alternatives, it is far too early to take nuclear power off the table.

In the News

Trump's Top Economic Adviser Still Supports Carbon Tax

quoting Casey B. Mulliganvia E&E News
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
President Trump's top economic adviser is not backing away from his belief that a carbon tax would be an effective way to address greenhouse gas emissions.
Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Area 45: The Trillion-Dollar Storm With Alice Hill

interview with Alice Hillvia Area 45
Monday, March 25, 2019

How can the US plan for and build resilience for catastrophic natural disasters?

Centennial SecretsFeatured

The History Of Nuclear Warfare And The Future Of Nuclear Energy

via The Hoover Centennial
Friday, March 15, 2019

The first atomic strike in 1945 changed the world forever.

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Energy Policy Task Force


The Task Force on Energy Policy addresses energy policy in the United States and its effects on our domestic and international political priorities, particularly our national security.