Global Community Anxiously Awaits Obama's Climate Address

Friday, May 30, 2014

The sun goes up over the steaming cooling towers of the lignite power plant of Jaenschwalde, on February 22, 2011. (PATRICK PLEUL/AFP/Getty)

On Monday, President Obama will lay out how the administration plans to reduce carbon emissions, and lawmakers and environmentalists in the real world are anxiously waiting for his announcement. 

Already, policy makers in California have committed to cap-and-trade system that they hope will prove that the carbon market, when properly executed, is our best chance at mitigating the effects of global warming.

But our partner The New York Times interviewed more than 80 experts in nine countries, only to find that there's little consensus about what actually works when it comes to undoing the damage done to our planet.

Joining The Takeaway is Justin Gillis, who covers environmental science and policy for The New York Times. He explains why the global community is so anxious for Monday's announcement, and how the carbon markets really work.



Justin Gillis

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman


T.J. Raphael

Comments [5]

Roland James

Cap and Trade worked for a regional, non-cumulative and limited problem of about three dozen high sulfur coal plants in the eastern US. However, carbon dioxide is global, cumulative, and involves millions of mobile and fixed sources of carbon dioxide. The developing world, which will account for ~80% of the projected 50% increase {Kyoto-80% DECREASE below 1990 to avoid climate hell} in carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century with business as usual, has expressed opposition to carbon trading, or cap- and-trade, as economic colonialism, eco-imperialism, or a way for the U.S. and those who live like us to continue to live big and rich while they continue to live small and poor.
The developing world countries have become even more opposed after the Wall Street-caused worldwide financial meltdown of 2008 and the revelations by Michael Lewis (Flash Boys-2014, The Big Short-2010, Liar’s Poker-1989) and others as to how Wall Street really works.
The developing world has indicated support for an international carbon tax, which doesn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn't involve manipulation and speculation, if properly implemented.
Because of the strong anti-tax sentiment in the US, a carbon tax has to be “framed” in a way that enables it to get off the ground: 1) probably a carbon dioxide tax with 100% return equally (across-the-board) within each country and with no control going to bureaucrats; this also has added conservation incentive of those that use less fossil fuels than average will get more money back than they pay in the tax; 2) to bypass congressional and state legislative gridlock initially, to build a much broader and bigger movement, to provide a much larger constituency for congressional and then international actiom--use the Initiative process in the ~half the states that have such a process.
Roland James, Seguin Texas
Assistant to Arizona Utility Regulator 1985-1999, and as candidate for that position in 2002, the League of Conservation Voters endorsed pro-coal and pro-deregulation opponents

May. 30 2014 06:07 PM
Jessie Henshaw from Way Uptown

One of the important things we're not yet thinking through is how any rise in CO2 prices will drive the further outsourcing of jobs and energy services, to countries with weaker rules. It's already happening, as businesses drive to look "sustainable", making it so easy to just shift suppliers to the least cost alternative to not report the energy demand that goes with it, perhaps quite unaware of favoring "the least compliant providers" (read "China, India, Brazil, etc.).

I think I have ample evidence that the whole sustainability community is still doing this stuff without thinking about where the energy demands are and how market forces would react to regulations. I'm in the UNEP FI study group working on recommendations for investors on avoiding CO2 risk. I think not really watching how changes in policy would change market forces is one of the reasons that, after 40 years, we're still not putting an appreciable dent in the still fast growing global sustainability problem.

Look around,...

May. 30 2014 04:15 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I have seen the future of this planet; humans are not a part of it. There are other planets out there to destroy. We should go there.

May. 30 2014 02:29 PM
Michelangelo from Miami FL

You can drive a hybrid or electric whatever until the cows come home but China will UNDO everything you're doing. China is supposedly a developing nation and has been given a free pass on melting the polar icecaps.

Here's the thing: the business of cleaning up the environment IS A BUSINESS. For every company complaining that we're killing capitalism with pollution control machines there's a company producing machines to save the planet. Stopping or reversing global warming IS an opportunity to make money too!

May. 30 2014 11:53 AM

The existence of Anthropomorphic Global Warming is a settled issue. (NOT!)

May. 30 2014 10:03 AM

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