Climate change was a topic that was conspicuously absent during the 2010 midterm election. Just before the midterms, James Boyce, of the Development and Environment Program at the PERI Institute, discussed new strategies to help build support for a new climate and energy policy.
Boyce acknowledged that Republican gains means that we are unlikely to see climate or energy legislation until at least 2012. He suggests that we study past efforts to see what has not worked and develop a new approach that would be acceptable to voters.
Because these are policies that will have to endure for a generation, Boyce believes a successful strategy on climate change demands bipartisan support. However, it is hard to work with a Republicans, many of whom are resistant to the science of climate change. (Democrats are not much better, they avoided the issue in the midterm election due to its unpopularity).
Although Boyce acknowledges that the risks associated with climate change are real he stops short of calling it an apocalypse, he refers to, “economic disruption on a scale we have never experienced before.” Boyce also questions the political viability of the apocalyptic approach to bring about sustainable climate change policies.
Boyce indicates that we need a new formula to help mitigate increased costs. Current versions of energy and climate legislation return the money gained from higher carbon prices to industry. Boyce suggests that we should auction energy permits and redistribute that money to the American people to help mitigate the increased price of carbon based fuels. According to Boyce, this will also give business an incentive to find alternatives to fossil fuels.
If we are to manage climate change, we need to significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels, while mitigating price increase. It is essential that we figure out a policy approach to climate change that people can vote for.
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