Full Title: Taking Stock 2020: The COVID-19 Edition
Author(s): Kate Larsen, Hannah Pitt, John Larsen, Whitney Herndon, Trevor Houser, Hannah Kolus, Shashank Mohan, and Emily Wimberger
Publisher(s): The Rhodium Group
Publication Date: July 9, 2020
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For the past six years, Rhodium Group has provided an independent annual assessment of US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and progress towards achieving the country’s climate goals. Each year, we explore changes in federal and state policy, shifting energy market and technology advancements, and expectations for growth of the US economy—all of which are central drivers of the outlook for US GHG emissions over the coming decade. However, this year’s edition is different. Here we focus solely on the largest source of uncertainty in the current outlook for US emissions: COVID-19’s impact on the economy.
It has been over 100 years since the US has confronted a pandemic of this magnitude, so there are few historical precedents for understanding what to expect over the coming years. There are four main components of uncertainty: 1) the epidemiological outcomes of COVID-19 and its spread; 2) how states, companies, and communities respond to the epidemiological risks through lockdowns or restrictions on activity; 3) the resulting impact to the US economy; and 4) the response of federal and state governments to shore up the economy through stimulus and recovery measures.
In this report, we provide a range of potential scenarios for the first three sources of uncertainty. We plan to explore the fourth source of uncertainty in subsequent research. These scenarios provide a starting point for policymakers as they consider policies to both stem economic losses and invest in efforts to decarbonize and improve the resilience of our economy.