Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CLIMATE CHANGE - Can the U.S. Take Its Head Out of the Sand?

"As another report urges action, how can U.S. overcome obstacles to effective climate policy?" PBS NewsHour 4/15/2014


JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  This week’s latest U.N. report on climate change warns of the urgent need for global action in the next five to 15 years, if countries want to ward off the worst impacts of rising emissions.

It also lays out numerous scenarios of what could be done.  But those options come with different costs, and in the U.S., there’s been opposition in Congress and often reluctance among much of the public to some big changes.

We look at the economic and political challenges with Robert Stavins.  He’s a lead co-author of the report.  He’s an environmental economist at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  And Maura Cowley, she’s the executive director of the Energy Action Coalition, which includes 30 youth-led groups.

And we thank you both for being with us.

Robert Stavins, let me start with you.

This report stresses the urgency of doing something now, implementing new policies.  Give us an example of a policy that the United States needs to implement in the near term.

ROBERT STAVINS, Harvard Kennedy School of Government:  Well, Judy, what’s become clear is that, for this country, for the United States, the only approach that conceivably would achieve meaningful emissions reductions, such as those that are talked about in the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, would be an economy-wide carbon pricing system.

That might be a cap-and-trade system, as has been denigrated, and obviously passed the House, but not the Senate, or it could perhaps a revenue-neutral carbon tax, but something that would be pervasive throughout the economy and send the right price signals.

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