Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Advice to the President on Climate Change Policy

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I have heard from some friends of mine who are a little bit connected in Washington that the President intends to make climate change and sustainability policy an initiative in the coming four years.  Here's some small pieces of advice for him and his administration as he looks to the future.

1.  Study the local.  Because there has been scant leadership at the national level on climate change and sustainability there have been a number of strong initiatives at the local level that are worth studying in detail.  In particular, I would look to the Florida Green Building Coalition's green local government initiatives and New York City's PlaNYC.  Each provides examples of how to benchmark sustainability and greenhouse gas reductions in rational ways.

2.  Don't be too heavy handed.  Not every place is the same.  As national policy is developed, allow for variations based on geographic and political realities.

3.  Don't shy away from"cap and trade" approaches to greenhouse gas management.  When climate change policy went down in defeat four years ago, it was demonized as socialistic largely due to cap and trade policies.  For those of you who don't know, cap and trade is a very effective pollution reduction policy strategy that has largely eliminated acid rain problems in North America.  It has been around for decades.  The policy sets overall caps on a pollutant type in a region.  A region can pay to release more pollution than their cap to a region that is releasing less than their cap.  What this does is provide incentive and financing for pollution technology.  It is by far the most effective strategy for reducing greenhouse gases while moving us forward in the development of new advances in pollution reduction.  I don't see it as socialistic at all.  The ones moving the money around are typically the utilities.

4.  Don't worry about international treaties.  I know we have not ratified international greenhouse gas management treaties.  While I think it is important to work on international agreements, let's fix our national policy first before we worry about how we can negotiate with other nations on their approaches.  

5.  Educate the public about global climate change.  Let's start a national rational discussion around global climate change that brings together political and scientific leaders to educate the public about the realities of the problem.

Any other suggestions?

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