Federal Climate Policy

Towards Optimal Climate Policy, Part II

The future of effective climate policy requires balancing equity, efficiency, political feasibility, and technological innovation

In the prior blog post in this two-part series, I talked about how current debates on climate policy that are focused on equity and efficiency are inadequate. Today, I’ll explain how we might advance political feasibility through climate policy, how that is connected to technological innovation, and how we must necessarily balance between all four …

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Public Opinion and the Limits of Climate Policy

There’s a simple reason why it’s so hard to take bold climate actions nationally.

Gallup has studied environmental attitudes in America for several decades.  Their historical compilation is very revealing about our present political situation. It sheds light on why it’s been so hard to develop momentum for real change at the national level, and also about why there’s so much more of a push for change within the …

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Towards Optimal Climate Policy, Part I

Moving the debate beyond equity and efficiency

As Congress debates two large pieces of legislation – both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a partisan reconciliation package – a key question is the extent to which either piece of legislation (assuming it is enacted) addresses climate policy. And the recent flooding in Europe, the wildfires in the western US and Russia, and more …

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Major International Climate Developments

China and the EU took important steps forward this week.

This week has seen some big climate moves on opposite sides of the world. The EU has proposed a major new climate plan. Meanwhile, China is ready to go live with its emissions trading system. The U.S. is at risk of being left behind. The EU’s proposal is impressive. The goal is to cut  net …

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Climate News from Capitol Hill

There are small but hopeful signs of progress in overcoming legislative gridlock.

Over a decade ago, the Waxman-Markey carbon trading bill died in the Senate. President Obama then had to rely entirely on administrative actions to address climate change. Republicans united in a solid wall of violent opposition to climate action.  There are some hopeful signs that things may not be quite so tough for President Biden. …

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Why I Was Wrong About Methane

I didn’t think cutting methane was a high priority. Now I do. Here’s why.

I didn’t use to think that eliminating methane emissions should be a priority. True, methane is a potent greenhouse gas. But it’s also a short-lived one, which only stays in the atmosphere for twenty years or so. In contrast, CO2 emissions cause warming for 2-3 centuries or more. So methane emissions seemed to be something …

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The Hidden Green-Infrastructure Bill

Every year, Congress provides lavish funding for clean energy and climate adaptation. No one notices.

Biden’s green-infrastructure bill is headline news.  Republicans are up in arms. Yet every year there’s already a green-infrastructure bill.  Hardly anyone notices. Republicans vote for it without a fuss.  Why?  It’s part of the annual funding bill for the military. The Defense Department remains the biggest single consumer of energy in the country, and it …

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Anti—Anti-#ClimateEmergency

COP25

Whether to declare a climate emergency is debatable. But some critics have gone way overboard.   

Should Biden declare a national climate emergency?  There are certainly arguments that, on balance, it would be better not to take that step.  Some opponents argue that declaring a climate emergency would be horribly anti-democratic, polarizing, and counterproductive.  Those arguments seem to me seriously overstated.  I’d like to go through the major arguments against declaring …

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How Biden’s Climate-Related Financial Risk Order Relates to State Policy

The federal government takes a big step, but state leaders still have a role to play

On Thursday the White House issued an Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk that outlines a key plank in the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government approach to addressing climate change. Whereas the Trump Administration sought to actively block consideration of environmental factors in investment decision-making, the Biden Administration is directing financial and climate regulators to develop strategies …

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Guest Contributor Jetta Cook: Greater Than the Sum: Sub-national Renewable Energy Policy during the Trump Administration

Solar panel array in CA desert

Even Red-States Supported and Increased Renewable Energy during the Trump Administration

Below the federal level, it’s difficult to discern the impact that the Trump Administration had on energy policy. To take a closer look, I conducted a fifty-state survey to discern how state, local, and public utility actions affecting energy policy came together as a whole over the past four years. Across the nation, I found, …

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