Policy Brief Series Examines Key Elements of Cap & Trade Design

Press Release
November 13, 2008

Pew Center Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, (703) 516-4146

Implications, Options and Complementary Policies Examined in Ten Briefs

Washington, DC – As President-elect Obama and a new Congress prepare to assume office in January, expectations for climate and energy legislation in the U.S. are arguably the highest in recent memory. And within the confines of the current economic climate, careful crafting of these policies has never been more important. 

To advance this effort and inform the climate change debate in Washington, the Pew Center is releasing a Congressional Policy Brief Series that will serve as a primer for the 111th Congress and the new Administration. The series addresses key cap-and-trade design elements and critical complementary policies that policymakers must grapple with to deliver cost-effective, environmentally-stringent plans to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and grow the economy.  

The new series is presented in two Congressional briefing books focused on key design questions regarding U.S. climate policy. The first book discusses the elements of a cap-and-trade system, including the main considerations for crafting the system and the implications of various design approaches. The briefs address the controversial issues in the climate change debate, such as the allocation of allowances, the use of cost containment mechanisms, and the role of domestic and international offsets. The second briefing book outlines key complementary policies, including those related to coal use, transportation, carbon taxes, and technology.

The materials do not recommend specific design choices or support any particular legislation. Instead, the books emphasize the implications of different policy approaches.

“Designing a U.S. domestic carbon market that is both environmentally effective and economically viable is an enormous undertaking, and as we know too well, the devil is in the details. We hope this series of briefs will serve as a credible and accessible resource for policy-makers as they grapple with a multitude of design decisions next year.” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The work of the Pew Center was supported by a generous grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). Through its Climate Change Initiative, DDCF supports work to evaluate and develop policies that put a price on greenhouse gas emissions and address other aspects of the regulatory frameworks needed to reduce the threat of global warming.

“The insight and analysis found in this series will help policymakers assess the different ways to address our climate and energy problems,” said Andrew Bowman, director of the Climate Change Initiative at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “This work is critical, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is pleased to support it.” 

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center, visit www.c2es.org.


The Pew Center was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Congressional Policy Brief Series

Cap-and-Trade Design Elements for a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program

Complementary Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions