Friday, May 18, 2007

Getting climate politics right

In an interview with Andy Revkin, Bill Clinton reflects on what he would have done differently on climate change if he had known in the '90s what he knows now. He says that rather than try a carbon tax, which he says Gore and he did in '93 but which even his own party would not support, or try to go head to head with Detroit and the UAW on vehicle efficiency standards, he would have concentrated on the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency in the built environment. The latter is the central drive of his large cities initiative today.

At first sight it seems strange that the benefits of investing in building stock efficiency were not better recognised in political circles at the time, given that Amory Lovins and others had been talking about the soft energy path since the early to mid '70s. But whatever the reasons that Clinton and Gore neglected this route, studies such as the McKinsey paper A cost curve for greenhouse gas abatement make it virtually impossible to ignore now.

Of course such investments are only one of the first steps, as noted in Winners and losers from climate change. A further report from McKinsey, scheduled for publication today, is said to make this point well.

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