David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Nov. 25, 2018 2 min read

1. A quick word on the current "moderate" GOP stance on climate change, i.e., that we should depend on "innovation" rather than hurting the economy. (Sasse & Rubio & others are out saying this right now.) It's code. Here's what it means.

2. Innovation is great. Literally no one is against it. It's one of the most important (and least understood) concepts in economics. We have a rough sense of how to stimulate innovation. There are lots of ways: public R&D, performance standards, pricing mechanisms.

3. Needless to say, the GOP position has no connection at all to the longstanding debate on innovation in energy. They mean something else by it.

4. The way to understand what GOP means by it is to start with basics. The current GOP is an alliance of plutocrats & racists. The plutocrats don't want any policy that constrains or penalizes big business generally, & fossil fuels specifically. That is the fixed point.

5. But the GOP is under political pressure to come up with *some* policy on climate. They can't penalize or restrict fossil fuel companies. So how about ... giving fossil fuel companies money? You could call it "incentives" or "prizes" for innovation! Perfect.

6. That's the GOP position: do not charge or otherwise penalize companies when they pollute; instead, lavish them with subsidies to reward their, ahem, innovations. So, for instance, GOP pols want to give coal companies a bunch of $$$ to fund efforts to bury carbon emissions.

7. Suffice to say, there is not a serious climate policy analyst on Earth who thinks we can pull off a massive, rapid energy transition by sporadically subsidizing the research efforts of private companies -- even if such subsidies were intelligently allocated.

8. Suffice to say, in the real world, the policies that best stimulate innovation are market-shaping policies -- mandates, performance standards, pollution pricing -- i.e., precisely the kind of policies the GOP opposes.  https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/11/20/18104206/solar-panels-cost-cheap-mit-clean-energy-policy 

9. Anyway, to sum up: when Rs respond to questions about climate policy by saying "innovation," what they mean is, "don't take any money from corporations, or require anything of corporations, just subsidize corporations." That's it.

10. As climate policy, it's a joke. But Rs know all too well that they don't need serious policy -- they just need enough BS to get through a single Chuck Todd question, because that's as deep as the MSM will ever dig. Thus, "innovation." </fin>


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