Just when we think we might make progress…

The Senate is in a position to pass a climate change bill aimed at the energy industry. There are some things that were changed through much of the politicking going on, and it is unsure whether the bill would be successful at doing much in the way of reducing emissions.

Here are a few opinions:

Whichever method is chosen, something should be done soon. If cap-and-trade policy is less effective than taxing carbon, then we will find out and should be flexible to adapt our policy.

We WILL NOT get things right the first time around! We cannot expect to! Policy should not be written and left stagnant anyway! But we can’t afford to argue back and forth about which policy will work better. That would take way too long to make anything happen.

We are missing the point by debating over what type of policy would work better. We should be open and flexible while ensuring that whatever policy is implemented is as strong as it can be, predicts any abuses, and doesn’t have any loopholes.

The author of this article says that the International Panel on Climate Change may be loosing its edge in terms of focus and methods. He says that the panel may not be able to keep up with the amount of climate research that is out there now.

This makes me think about the discussion of scientific collaboration talked about in Wikinomics. Scientists could do so much if they had a way to coordinate their efforts in an open source kind of way. Currently, I do not know of any such place. Scientists do coordinate and collaborate, but at a much smaller scale than what is possible.

What is the right type of policy to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions? I don’t think that is the right question to be asking. I think we should ask, “How do we get all the stakeholders to work on this together?” The policymakers, the industries, the farmers, the scientists, should all be working together to come up with the solutions. No one group should be able to get their own interests in there without the other groups keeping them in check. (Too many lobbyists in DC!) But, I think it could work!


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One thought on “Just when we think we might make progress…

  1. I like your commentary, and absolutely agree that we can’t be expected to get climate change legislation completely right the first time around. I don’t even know if “completely right” has any meaning in this context, as both the state of our environment and the issues addressed by such legislation are constantly changing, requiring updated legislation every few years anyway.

    I worry though, that adopting either a cap and trade system or a carbon tax now will make it difficult in the future to switch to the other (or a totally new system) in the event that things don’t work out as planned. A failed climate change control effort now may only produce fodder for opponents of climate change control down the road, and add to the challenge of finding an effective and enforceable long term solution.

    I think this means that while we definitely need strong legislation as soon as possible, it is important that whatever measures are passed are carefully considered and combed through for just the kinds of loopholes noted in the editorial you cite.

    As for getting all the interested parties to work together for a solution, it seems to me that environmental responsibility needs to be better incentivized by the government in order to make it more of a priority for all involved. If it makes real economic sense to control carbon emissions or prevent deforestation, corporations will find ways to do so.

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