Climate & Energy

Climate policy myths

Myth: Democrats support good climate policy and Republicans oppose it

Energy and climate scramble the usual left-right political divisions. Many of the big fights are not among parties but among regions and levels of government. In the U.S. Congress, to be sure, the Republicans=obstructionists formula holds with virtually no exceptions …

Climate policy myths

Myth: Unlike cap-and-trade, a carbon tax is simple, immune to manipulation, & politically palatable

A strange-bedfellows political coalition, everyone from the CEO of Exxon to climate scientist James Hansen, supports a carbon tax as an alternative to cap-and-trade. Tax proponents allege that cap-and-trade is too complicated; too friendly to financial industry tricks and manipulations; …

Climate policy myths

Myth: Consensus on policy is possible even among those who disagree about climate change

John McCain popularized this notion during his ill-fated presidential campaign, assuring skeptical conservative audiences that whether or not they believed in climate change, they should support clean energy policy. The appeal is clear enough: climate change is politically divisive. It’s …

Climate policy myths

Myth: Europe’s experience shows that cap-and-trade can’t work

It is now widely acknowledged that Europe’s carbon trading program — the ETS — made several key mistakes in its initial trial period. The system covered a narrow slice of the EU economy, yielding a relatively small market wherein price …

Climate policy myths

Myth: Solving climate change is primarily about finding cleaner sources of energy

Wind! No, “clean coal“! Biofuels! No, natural gas! Idiots, it’s all about nuclear! Conversations about tackling climate change are perpetually dominated by disputes over which cleaner energy sources will substitute for today’s dirty energy. What’s left out? Using less energy. …

Climate policy myths

Myth: Using less energy = sacrifice

Mention “reducing demand” to Average Jane American and she’ll assume you mean conservation:  turning off lights, drying clothes on a clothesline, riding a bike to work, wearing a sweater when it’s cold inside. And when she thinks conservation, she’ll generally …

Climate policy myths

Myth: Tackling climate change requires fundamental technological breakthroughs

No myth has done more to lull Americans into complacency or allow bad actors to fight off good policy. The American people are deeply attached to the notion that any problem can be solved with a new doohickey. It would, …

Climate policy myths

Myth: Pricing carbon will destroy the economy

Legislators from dirty-energy producing states, energy-intensive business lobbies, and conservative think tanks struggle to outdo one another with apocalyptic predictions about the effects of mandatory greenhouse gas emission reductions. See, for example, the Chamber of Commerce’s video showing children shivering …

Climate policy myths

Myth: There is a “free market” in energy

To hear some people talk, you’d think the greatest danger of government intervention in the energy sector is that it will “distort the market.” Poor, tender market. In fact, energy markets would give Adam Smith the screaming willies. The world’s …