As 2022 winds down, the editorial team at Resources for the Future has reviewed the past 12 months of blog posts, magazine articles, and podcast episodes to select some notable pieces of the year. Take a look to catch up on research about economics, energy, and the environment that may resonate with you.
The Social Cost of Carbon: Reaching a New Estimate
The social cost of carbon (SCC) is an estimate of the economic damages that result from an incremental ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. In September, a multi-institutional team including Resources for the Future (RFF) introduced a new estimate of the SCC that’s more than three times larger than the number that the federal government currently uses for benefit-cost analysis of policies and regulations. In an article published in Resources magazine, RFF scholars Brian C. Prest, Jordan Wingenroth, and Kevin Rennert provide an overview of the methods that produced the new SCC and examine the implications for policymakers. “Our research finding—that the value of the SCC is substantially higher than the previous values used by the US government—implies that, based on the latest science and economic conditions, policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions provide significantly greater benefits than have been accounted for previously,” they say.
Electric Vehicles and the Inflation Reduction Act
Tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act incentivize the adoption of medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles and encourage sales of relatively smaller vehicles. RFF Fellow Beia Spiller examines the implications of the tax credits in a blog post that was published shortly after the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act: “The federal government seems to be focusing implicitly on fleet electrification in the small medium- and heavy-duty vehicle space,” says Spiller.
Electric passenger vehicles also receive a boost from the Inflation Reduction Act, in the form of an expanded tax credit for car buyers. But some of the domestic-content restrictions on the credit are likely to make it more difficult for consumers to take advantage, notes Spiller in another blog post published this summer. “Until auto manufacturers in the private sector make significant changes to their manufacturing processes and resulting vehicle price points, you—and most other car buyers in the market for electric vehicles—may need to forgo the tax credit if you want to go electric,” says Spiller.
Magnetized Concrete: the Future of Electric Vehicle Charging?
In this episode of Resources Radio, host Kristin Hayes talks with Nadia Gkritza, a professor at Purdue University. Gkritza is leading a team that envisions a world where electric vehicles can recharge by driving over magnetized concrete, eliminating the need for charging stations and potentially reducing the need for larger batteries in electric vehicles. Gkritza and Hayes discuss the development, implementation, and benefits of the magnetized concrete technology; the next steps for the project; the collaboration involved; and the importance of funding electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Climate and Weather, with the Capital Weather Gang
Resources magazine’s most popular tweet of 2022 featured an episode of Resources Radio with Jason Samenow, chief meteorologist with the Capital Weather Gang and weather editor at the Washington Post. In the episode, Samenow and podcast host Kristin Hayes discuss the intersection of climate change and weather, with a focus on how meteorologists communicate with the public about climate change and the increasing number of extreme weather events occurring both globally and in the Washington, DC, area.
What Is an “Energy Community”?
The Inflation Reduction Act offers tax credits to clean-energy projects that are sited within an “energy community.” But the definition of an “energy community” in the Inflation Reduction Act requires some unpacking. In this blog post, RFF scholars Daniel Raimi and Sophie Pesek examine what qualifies a location as an energy community and the extent to which the Inflation Reduction Act targets communities that may be most affected by a national transition to clean energy.
Understanding Volatile Oil Markets
In this episode of Resources Radio, host Daniel Raimi talks with Helima Croft, a managing director and Head of Global Commodity Strategy and Middle East and North Africa Research at RBC Capital Markets. Croft discusses how the oil market has responded to historical events in the past and how current events more recently have been influencing the oil market. Croft and Raimi’s conversation ranges across Russia, Europe, China, Saudi Arabia, Texas, and beyond.
The Future of Hydrogen in the United States
Both the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act include provisions for the development of a US hydrogen industry and so-called “hydrogen hubs,” which are regional networks of hydrogen developers and consumers. In response, scholars in RFF’s Industry and Fuels Program have analyzed the policies that could shape the future of hydrogen in the United States and reviewed what potential producers and end users of hydrogen would like to see in the program.
In Focus: A Video Series in Our On the Issues Newsletter
This year, the Resources Editorial Team launched In Focus, an ongoing series of short videos that features RFF scholars sharing insights about current events in the energy and environment spaces. Topics include the updated social cost of carbon; the fiscal impacts of California’s wildfires; renewable energy growth in 2022; leading topics at the annual United Nations climate convention; Chinese climate policy; and the role of research for the incoming US Congress. Stay tuned—and subscribe to our newsletters—to see new videos as soon as they’re up.
Policy Leadership Series
The RFF Policy Leadership Series features interviews with private- and public-sector leaders and decisionmakers. This year, Allison Clements of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Andrew Steer of the Bezos Earth Fund, and David Turk of the US Department of Energy joined RFF President and CEO Richard G. Newell for conversations about key issues in energy and environmental policy and decarbonization efforts.
The RFF Editorial Team selected this chart for an October edition of our On the Issues newsletter. The solid black line represents US carbon dioxide emissions that would have been projected in the absence of the Inflation Reduction Act, and the solid light-blue line represents projected US emissions now that the legislation has passed. RFF scholars estimate that the Inflation Reduction Act will reduce annual US carbon dioxide emissions by 277 million to 540 million metric tons. The dotted lines represent various scenarios modeled in RFF’s Beyond Clean Energy report, which examines the effects of the Inflation Reduction Act on household budgets, greenhouse gas emissions, and health outcomes.