Energy Agreement Hidden by Climate Disputes

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The Yale Project on Climate Communication has periodically runs surveys finding that there are essentially six types of American beliefs on human-driven climate change. The 2010 survey included questions on cap-and-trade-legislation and policies for fostering more efficient vehicles or renewable energy technologies.

Even Americans alarmed about global warming were at best lukewarm about the carbon legislation. Nearly all the groups were enthusiastic or at least marginally supportive of the energy initiatives, even when they included mandatory steps and came with some cost.

Background:
http://environment.yale.edu/climate/
Relevant Dot Earth posts: http://j.mp/dot6americas

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  • I believe that another problem lies in lack of faith in 'The System', by which policy is conceived and translated into results. Clim-Ergy is an inherently complex paradigm. It will demand complex, coordinated broad-based responses. As societies, left and right, we have grown skeptical at best and cynical at worst regarding our capacity for unified, concerted, purposeful and effective action. We suspect that everyone will try to 'game the system' for self-benefit in the name of many, because so many have, do and will.

    The closest we've come to organizing on a massive scale to address a challenge comparable to Clim-Ergy is World War II and the race to the Moon. Clim-Ergy dwarfs both those enterprises in complexity, magnitude and duration of effort, and it suffers from far less broad-based understanding and commitment to goal.
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  • Conservatives may believe in the threat of global warming as a general problem and may even take some personal actions to reduce the threat but they are conflicted by more theoretical beliefs (ideology) concerning personal profit, low or no regulations, low or no taxes, etc. Labelling someting as 'environmental' conjurs up the opposite of libertarian and implies constraints on personal freedom to do as one wishes. Most such conflicts are seldom analysed as to actual costs and benefits in the short and long term to both an individual or populations. That requires too much heavy thinking and analysis of personal beliefs.

    As for cap and trade, nobody knows what it means, how it might work, whether it might work or what the costs and benefits would be. If you want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions then a carbon tax is the simplist approach.
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  • I wonder if people are lukewarm about cap and trade because it seems squishy and likely to be gamed. In Europe, too many permits were issued, and currently the market value of permits is very low. A carbon tax is a lot more concrete; cap and trade evokes the notion of a big layer of government on top of industry; though one might argue that collecting taxes is just as intrusive, and the whole idea was that industry could cut emissions in the most cost-efficient way. An I alarmed about climate change? I'm totally freaking out about it! Positive feedback mechanisms exist that are very scary. We need to act.
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  • Of course even those of us who are very concerned about climate change are only luke-warm about cap-and-trade. We know that that is a bad solution, and that the real solution is a carbon tax, or somehow getting the true cost of energy into the pricing. You use the word 'alarmed,' but that's not really the best descriptor, since we saw it coming from way off - years ago. Now we know it's actually here, deniers not withstanding. We are more resigned to it, rather than alarmed.
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Energy Agreement Hidden by Climate Disputes

  1. 1. Support  for  a  cap  &  trade  policy  
  2. 2. Support  for  providing  rebates  for  purchases  of  solar  panels  and  fuel-­‐efficient  vehicles  
  3. 3. Support  for  requiring  45  mpg  fuel  efficiency  across  vehicle  fleets,  even  at  a  $1,000  price  premium.  

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