(8 July): Andy Revkin has a brief discussion of the report mentioned below and several other ideas that have been proposed for "breaking the climate deadlock" on DotEarth
If you are among the small number of people who read this blog, you undoubtedly know that the U.S. House of Representatives
passed the Waxman-Markey bill
recently mandating a cap and trade system to control emissions of greenhouse gases. It is currently being considered in the Senate, where its fate is uncertain, but President Obama congratulated the House
on its action and has promised to sign it if it reaches his desk.
As you must also know, there is a lot of opposition to this bill. Some of it is from predictable sources who deny that climate change is real. But some of it comes from those who agree that climate change is happening and that it poses serious problems. They argue that cap and trade is the wrong policy. The Institute for Science, Innovation and Society at the University of Oxford
and the London School of Economics and Political Science's Mackinder Programme
have just released a report entitled, How to Get Climate Policy back on Course
. In it the authors of the study argue that "the only policies that will work are those which focus on improvement
in energy efficiency and the decarbonisation of energy supplies" (from Roger Pielke, Jr.'s Blog
I haven't read the report yet, but I have to confess that I'm skeptical. I'm no expert on either energy or economics, but it seems to me that making carbon-based energy more expensive is the only way to encourage "decarbonisation of energy supplies." Roger would no doubt reply that paying more for energy isn't politically feasible
. He's the political scientist, not me, so I won't argue with that. But I can't see a more effective way to encourage less use of carbon-intensive energy sources than to make them more expensive. To the extent Waxman-Markey doesn't do that, it's not going to work. From what I know about it, if Waxman-Markey has a flaw, it's that it's trying to make the switch to less carbon-intensive energy sources painless.
Maybe I'll see the light after I've read the new report. In any case, check back next week if you're interested. I hope to have some thoughts on the report by then.