Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Obama and Chu on piecemeal climate policy

This is from US President Obama's interview in Rolling Stone:

When I ask him [Stephen Chu] how we are going to solve this problem internationally, what he'll tell you is that we can get about a third of this done through efficiencies and existing technologies, we can get an additional chunk through some sort of pricing in carbon, but ultimately we're going to need some technological breakthroughs

It is an interesting and rather pragmatic characterization of the solution. The pricing could, of course, drive efficiencies, use of efficient technologies and the development of new breakthrough technologies. But we're seeing how a comprehensive pricing scheme is a practical and political nightmare. Implementing a national or international pricing scheme that touches on a limited set of carbon-generating activities, let one alone taxes carbon across the board, has been hard enough (in the case of Waxman-Markey, you end up with a complicated bill that alienates even the supporters of action). 

Maybe people are finally coming to the realization that a piecemeal solution might actually work the best.   If we can use adopt "wedges" thinking, rather than one grand solution, to reducing emissions, why not do the same for the policy that encourages the emissions reductions?

In Obama's words:

We may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation. But we're going to stay on this because it is good for our economy, it's good for our national security, and, ultimately, it's good for our environment.


No comments: