Why climate policy is hard
Decarbonization means local costs for global benefits
In the midst of another round of pointless internet fighting about the Sunrise Movement, I thought I should step back and try to more clearly articulate how I see the broader climate problem. Because I think the essential fact about climate change is that it is, in fact, a very difficult problem. It’s difficult on a technical level, in the sense that a net-zero economy would require technologies that do not yet exist at any kind of reasonable scale. But it’s also extraordinarily difficult on a political level.
Climate activists and their funders have had (and I should probably have a better attitude about this) a lot more success than I would have predicted 20 or 25 years ago based on the basic structure of the situation. And while you can make yourself crazy starting with something like a global 1.5 degree target and only measuring policy in terms of the shortfall, any progress at all is borderline miraculous, and the fact is we have made a lot.
But this progress — the result of succ…
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