Obama’s Calibrated Move

Inside Climate News has an excellent summary of Obama’s recent executive order on carbon emissions..

How Ambitious Is EPA’s Climate Change Rule, Really?

For myself, I think President Obama has hit the nail on the head once again.

You can’t get to an adequate policy in one step from no policy at all. President Obama again proves himself a master of making as much lemonade as possible out of the lemons he has at hand. The man is brilliant, and the flaws in this plan are not remotely his fault, in my opinion. Further a 30% cut by 2030 is precisely on track to an 80% cut by 2050, which is precisely what we ought to be targeting globally.

I think we should support Prof. Obama on this. Do you?


  1. What's not to like? It is calibrated, targeted and should make a difference in future technology investments.

    10 years from now people will wake up and discover that Obama was a really good president.

    And by that time the pause should be almost finished and climate change will be back on the agenda.

  2. Pingback: Obama’s recent executive order on carbon emissions – Stoat

  3. I have said this before but I think this is the worst way of achieving emissions reductions, about the only thing worse would be doing nothing.

    But I understand that there is little else Obama can do, and so I applaud this effort. The predictions of economic catastrophe will likely prove as accurate as the predictions of economic collapse when the EPA decided to tackle acid rain.

    This is a good step in the right direction, I just wish we could implement a market based solution instead of a regulatory based one and take a great step in the right direction.

  4. Dan,

    Like you I'd be keen on a market based solution, but there are a couple of concerns about this: first, any tinkering with the markets is likely to be viewed as some kind of stealth tax and will polarise people even more than this method (if that's possible), second, Markets engage in Gaming, and a market-based solution is most likely to end up profiting someone it shouldn't at the cost of someone it should, especially on an international scale.

    In zero-sum terms, dealing with GW and emissions can't be a win-win unless someone comes up with a way to make corn dogs out of carbon (or some equivalent). In the meantime, it is at best a damage imitation process - in other words, a not-lose/not-lose game...


  5. The most expensive way to deal with climate emergencies is after the fact. The most expensive way to deal with climate change is later. For two centuries we've been using our atmosphere as a dump, and consequences are piling up. But we can slow this process and this is a good first step, some preventive care.

    I do hope that people will move on cleaner energy, and not be so focused on substituting what is arguably not, when all the moving parts are counted, much cleaner (fracking and tar sands).

  6. Fergus, you says it. Almost every market needs some regulation and oversight and fine tuning of parameters. Else the holy Invisible Hand will work for the frauds and gamers. This is known since Aristotle examined the Athens bread market.

    Now, after China had announced a carbon cap, it is time for Europe to get their Emissions Trading System work seriously and adjust their ridiculous carbon price.

  7. >Markets engage in Gaming,

    Gaming happens with regulations as well. As a general rule the more complex the policy/regulation the more chance there is that it will be gameable. Then cynic in me thinks that sometimes politicians propose overly complex policy because it is easier to hide loopholes for their friends/campaign donors to exploit. I don't think this is the case with Obama's new regulations however. But, never the less, they will be gamed. If we are lucky they will be continuously refined to minimized gaming.

    But I think something like a carbon tax (revenue neutral preferably) that increases every year has a far greater chance of not being gamed because it is inherently much simpler. Cap and trade is a more complex scheme and is also more gamable. Sector based regulations (like the new power planet regulations) are even more complex and more subject to gaming.

    But again I need to reiterate that I think The step Obama took in regulating emissions for power plants is a positive step, and given the current status of congress I think it was the only step he could take.

  8. Another reason I think this is canny politics: the timing, six months before the mid-terms. Republican climate denial is already starting to wobble pretty badly. Obama's set the ground for climate being a key battleground in a way that just hasn't happened before. I think he knows what he's doing there. Or I hope so. It's a risk, but the arguments will be out in the open in a way they haven't been before...?

  9. Pingback: Another Week in the Ecological Crisis, June 8, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered

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