A Politically and Economically Sensible Proposal to Reduce Carbon Emissions

The issue of climate change has been largely ignored by the Congress, despite support from both Obama and McCain during the 2008 campaign for different policies to reduce carbon emissions. I had hoped this might be an issue where there might be some bipartisan compromise, but I’ve been disappointed in the lack of cooperation—indeed, the lack of political courage—shown by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress in addressing the issue. Politicians in the U.S. and other developed countries are very unlikely to take action to reduce carbon emissions if those actions stifle their country’s economy or put their country at a competitive disadvantage.
However, I recently read an article that gives me hope. In the editorial “Why We Need to Cool it On Global Warming,” Bjorn Lomborg (head of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It) suggests that investing in clean power technologies might be a better solution than carbon taxes or cap and trade.
Lomborg points out that instead of calling each other alarmists or deniers, people with varying opinions about the severity of the threat from climate change can at least agree that pollution from carbon emissions causes some harm to the environment and that it would be good to pursue cleaner energy sources.
I encourage you to follow the link at the bottom of this post and read the article in its entirety. Below are a few excerpts from the article:
[W]e need to dispense with both the anti-scientific denialism and the unnecessary fear-mongering. Instead, what we should be doing is facing facts -- and responding to them not with rhetoric but with smarter, more rational policies….
The data leaves little doubt that the planet is getting warmer as a result of the long-term build-up of man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This trend is both indisputable and worrisome.…
[T]he kind of carbon cuts called for in the Kyoto Protocols and the European Union's recently adopted 20/20 policy (under which carbon emissions are supposed to be cut to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020) would be both amazingly costly and woefully ineffective...
The good news is that there is a smarter, more effective way to deal with global warming. The big problem with the call for drastic carbon cuts is that it ignores the fact that despite all the hopeful talk about solar, wind and other green energy technologies, carbon-emitting fuels like coal and oil are still far cheaper and more efficient energy sources. This is why we continue to be so overwhelmingly dependent on them….
For two decades now, we have been putting the cart before the horse, pretending we could cut carbon emissions now (by taxing them) and solve the efficiency problem later. Unfortunately, this makes neither economic nor political sense. What we should be doing isn't trying to make carbon-emitting fuels too expensive to use, but rather figuring out how to make green energy cheaper. If we could do that, we wouldn't have to force (or subsidize) anyone to stop burning coal and oil….
[D]evoting roughly $100 billion a year to green energy R&D is likely to produce the kind of game-changing breakthroughs needed to fuel a carbon-free future. Not only would this be a much less expensive fix than trying to cut carbon emissions directly, it would also reduce global warming far more quickly.

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