Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Speech and Climate Change

I didn't really intend to watch the inauguration, but Obama did talk a little about climate change, so I will devote some time to giving my analysis of it. Of course, it was lacking in specifics, but it did hint at some future actions and I am not too impressed.

We really need a price on carbon and Obama hasn't shown a willingness to expend political capital on pushing for it, even saying that carbon taxes are only an option if Republicans push for them. I am also disturbed by this quote: "But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise." Climate change is not a jobs issue or something that should lead to us trying to defeat China. We should welcome cheaper emission-reduction technology and clean energy no matter where it comes from, not ensure that every policy must increase US jobs.

Bottom line: it is good lip service to the issue, but I don't see any indication that he'll force legislation through a hostile Congress, even though it could lead to fewer regulations and lower taxes than his current economic proposals.  Instead, he seems willing to push for increased spending on clean technology and linking it to employment, increased regulations from the EPA and new efficiency standards, and increasing trade regulation with China.  Of course, the last policy will increase costs and increase emissions, like this tariff on Chinese solar panels.  If Obama is serious, he won't pay as much attention to where the technology is coming from as to how we can reduce emissions in the least-costly way possible.

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