Institutions and Climate Change Policies

Ezra Klein is a global warming pessimist. In his own words, “we’re fucked.”projected climate change

While he gives several different reasons for this belief, the crux of it seems to be U.S. political institutions and parties (the Republicans). Yet he also concedes that other governments are not serious about climate change either.

Indeed, no government has taken serious steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to prevent a greater-than-two-degree warming by 2100. The U.S., Canada, and Australia all either failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol or dropped out. The EU, meanwhile, has not seen any significantly different fall in emissions from the U.S. since its regulatory structure came into effect. The biggest emitter, China, shows no interest whatever in any emissions cuts at all.

So why blame U.S. institutions or politicians specifically? Politicians worldwide are taking a wait-and-see approach to global greenhouse gas emissions.

I can think of two explanations for their nonchalance: 1) no government does a decent job of addressing this kind of problem; 2) the politicians know something about the problem that Ezra Klein doesn’t.

6 thoughts on “Institutions and Climate Change Policies

  1. “Ezra Klein is a global warming pessimist”

    I would take that to mean Ezra doesn’t believe in global warming. What the article referred to is describing though, is the opinion of one who considers human-caused global warming an undeniable truth–hardly a pessimist.

    1. The EU’s? Well, since 2007, the US’s emissions have fallen faster, making it doubtful that the regulatory framework is responsible. For the EU, the steep economic decline is probably responsible for most of the decline (its carbon price has been near or at zero more or less the entire time since the marketplace opened). For the US, recession plus fracking are what’s going on.

  2. AFAICT, Klein is right to be pessimistic about the outcome for life on earth.

    But he’s completely wrong about who to blame. There is a ready-to-implement answer for reducing carbon emissions while generating the energy necessary for economic growth: it’s called nuclear power and France, which is not the world’s most advanced economy, recently generated 80% of its electricity from this clean, safe, and essentially inexhaustible resource.

  3. Sorry, I published my last comment too soon.

    Who’s to blame for our unwillingness to exploit nuclear energy? Essentially, it’s a coalition of economic incumbents and the environmental activist networks that they secretly fund. As for institutions, the many varieties of modern democracy have proven incapable of summoning the will necessary for collective sacrifice.

    The human race will suffer mightily and our ancestors will curse our names.

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