Climate Politics

The Winding Path of Australian Climate Policy

After many travails, the country now seems to be headed in the right direction.

On a per capita basis, Australia’s carbon emissions are even higher than the United States. A decade ago, Australia had a climate tax. That was repealed in 2014, and the ensuing period saw little progress. In the past two years, however, the things have started trending upward after years of inaction by conservative governments. More …

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The Energy Transition and the Working Class

Is Biden right? Can we attack climate change while uplifting the lives of workers?

In most of the world, May 1 is International Worker’s Day. It celebrates the collective struggle of workers for better wages and working conditions. That made me start thinking about the efforts that have been made to unite climate action with the interests of workers.  That has been a particular emphasis of the Biden Administration …

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The Texas Paradox

Texas is firmly in the grip of conservative Republicans. So what’s the deal with renewables?

I sometimes ask students to guess what state produces the most wind power. They’re always shocked to find out the right answer: Texas.  Republicans have an iron grip on Texas government. And not just that, but Texas is by far the biggest producer of oil, with a governor who has pledged to protect the industry …

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Climate Policy’s “Plan B”

As the initial top-down approach failed, a new approach to climate policy crystalized.

My last blog post told the story of the original top-down approach to climate policy. It was supposed to feature binding restrictions on carbon emissions in a global treaty and federal legislation. By 2012, it was plain that neither half of this “Plan A” strategy was in the offing. Building on trends that had begun …

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When Bad Things Happen to Good Regulations

When Bad Things Happen to Good Regulations - Legal Planet

The GOP’s effort cancel a pension reg illustrates the evils of the Congressional Review Act.

In their crusade against “wokeness,” congressional Republicans are taking aim at Labor Department rule about pension plan investments. The rule’s transgression is apparently that it makes easier for pension plans to consider how climate-related risks might affect a company’s bottom line. To avoid being woke, the GOP would apparently prefer pension managers to close their …

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Biden’s silent climate victory lap

The president talks up his climate laws without saying “climate.” Can the U.S. meet its climate goals without telling voters about them? 

Well, we finally got a real “Infrastructure Week.” President Biden has been traveling from Baltimore to New York to Kentucky, touting his major legislative achievements in front of trains, tunnels and bridges. He’s talking up both the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as a warm-up for his State …

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Is Bipartisanship Possible?

An image of the U.S. Capitol Building in the evening.

It’s not easy in today’s polarized politics. But maybe it’s not completely off the table.

We are now, as so often, in a time of divided government. That makes bipartisan cooperation necessary. We are also in a time of hyper-partisanship.  The problem may be compounded by the concessions made by McCarthy to the far Right in order to become Speaker.  Nevertheless, there may be some opportunities for cooperation across party …

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30 Years of U.S. Climate Policy

Here’s a timeline of the victories and defeats since 1992.

Thirty years ago, the United States joined the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The decades since then have been a saga of victories and defeats for U.S. climate policy.  Progress has been made under one President, only to be battered down by the next one. This to-and-fro is a sobering reminder of how …

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The Year Ahead

Here are the top ten environment and energy developments to watch for.

Here we are, starting another year.  Last year turned out to have some major environmental developments. The most notable were the Supreme Court’s ruling in West Virginia case, striking down the Clean Power Plan, and the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, with its huge economic incentives for clean energy.  Here’s quick rundown of what …

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Loss and Damage

A deeper dive into the top issue at COP27

As I noted in my last post, this year’s conference of the parties to the climate treaties (COP27) became pretty much a single-issue conference, focused on adaptation and the associated needs for finance – in particular on the urgent need for financial assistance to support adaptation in the Global South, and the lamentable record of …

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