Small steps now, or big solutions? Both.

Federal Action on Climate Change and Clean Energy

The past year of extreme heat, drought, flooding and wildfire underscores the need for stronger measures to advance clean energy, reduce carbon emissions and strengthen America’s climate resilience. With the start of a new Congress and presidential term, strong and …

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I recently replied to a question on the National Journal blog on what’s keeping Washington from making the type of progress on energy and climate policy that is being made on other issues.

You can read responses at the National Journal.

Here is my response:

Climate change is like these issues in some respects and unlike them in others.  Tragic precipitating events have moved gun control to the fore, and personal experience (i.e., knowing a family member or friend who is gay) has changed public attitudes towards gay marriage.  Both precipitating events and personal experience are brought together in climate change, with wildfires, floods, droughts, heat waves, and major storms touching the lives of millions of Americans over the past couple years.  This may be why polling is showing an increasing awareness that climate change is real, happening now, and a problem we need to do something about.

Climate change is also something like immigration reform, however, in that there are complex economic issues involved.  For climate change, the economic issues are probably the single biggest reason we haven’t addressed climate change as quickly as the science indicates we should.

Should we try to move forward in a piecemeal fashion, or does this policy area require big solutions?  The answer is: Yes.


C2ES has published a policy guide which identifies a range of steps that could be taken by the Obama Administration to reduce carbon emissions and make our communities more climate-resistant — actions already authorized under existing law.  We should move forward on these measures.  They’ll just be the first steps, however.

At some point, hopefully soon, and perhaps informed by the lessons of our early steps, we need Congress to put a price on carbon emissions.  This will reward inventors and investors for advancing the energy technologies that will grow our economy while cutting our emissions.