Monday, October 19, 2009

How much government?

How heavy is the hand of government going to have to be for use to have any chance of reaching our climate goals? All of the talk of green jobs and growth opportunities associated with de-carbonizing distracts from just how reluctant we all are to make changes on our own. The Economist reports (http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displayStory.cfm?story_id=14649058&source=hptextfeature) that the UK Committee on Climate Change (appointed to advise the government on how to meet its targets for greenhouse-gas emissions) has concluded that far too little is being done. “Although recession is holding emissions back, they are dropping at an average annual rate of under 1%, rather than the 2-3% needed” to reach the 2020 reduction targets. “Consumers are not buying energy-efficient appliances or insulating their houses, carmakers are failing to get emissions down and power companies still prefer fossil fuels to greener alternatives. A bracing dose of re-regulation was prescribed: the CCC suggests compulsory emissions caps for cars, feed-in tariffs to help green-power producers and a state-enforced minimum carbon price to encourage nuclear and “clean” coal power stations.” If the same options arise in the U.S., will citizens accept such policies? Not without a lot more work to convince them of the true cost of not doing so.

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