UMTC Affiliate Publishes Research on Method for Measuring the Effectiveness of Emissions Reduction Projects and Policies


UMTC Research Affiliate Erin Baker, of UMass Amherst, and PhD student Seyedeh Nazanin Khatami, recently published their work in the Climate Policy journal. In their study, “The levelized cost of carbon: a practical, if imperfect, method to compare CO2 abatement projects,” they defined a new cost-effectiveness metric, the Levelized Cost of Carbon (LCC). The LCC incorporates the time value to money, recognizing that money spent now and money spent ten years from now are not equivalent. The metric also reflects how the benefits of reducing carbon emissions may change over time. Baker and Khatami investigated the theoretical and practical implications of using a cost-effectiveness metric as an approach to rank projects, and then applied the LCC method to a set of transportation projects to illustrate the insights that can be gained by such a process. They found that among Massachusetts projects, traffic operations projects were more cost-effective than transit in terms of reducing emissions. We talked with Baker about her study and she discussed the importance of this research: “It is crucial that society moves forward to address climate change since the benefits of reducing emissions and the damages they cause are vast. However, we don’t want to move forward wastefully, and if we don’t invest wisely it might make us lose momentum in the fight against climate change. In this paper, we developed a fairly straightforward way for government agencies or industry to think about the cost effectiveness of policies and projects.” 

Baker’s research was sponsored by MassDOT through the Federal Highway Administration State Planning and Research (SPR) program.  A copy of the full study is available on-line here.