David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Apr. 10, 2019 2 min read

1. @DLeonhardt has a long piece on climate policy up today and, me being me, I'm gonna do a quick thread on it:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/09/magazine/climate-change-politics-economics.html 

2. First thing to say: DAMN has the general level of climate policy dialogue improved over the last decade. This piece is incredibly thoughtful, nuanced, and informed -- 1000x better than the kind of glib, gimmicky crap MSM opiners used to offer on climate. Worth celebrating!

3. Second thing: it is nice to see establishment types getting over their carbon tax fetish. For many years, carbon taxes played the role that nuclear is playing for some now: One Simple Trick that relieved you of the burden of thinking through a complex problem. That's done. 🤞

4. All that said, a few nitpicks. First, though Leonhardt has been dissuaded from tax mania by political considerations, he still seems to accept the econ dogma, eg., "These alternatives — like clean-energy mandates and subsidies — are less efficient than carbon pricing."

5. It may be so that a tax is the most efficient single, comprehensive climate policy, but it is *simply not true* that in every economic sector or technological domain, a tax is more efficient -- especially if the tax is below the "optimal" level, which is always.

6. IOW, the use of multiple tools at multiple levels is not some regrettable concession climate policy has to make to an irrational public. It is a better approach *on the merits*. There are lots of things that need doing that a tax isn't good for. That's fine!

7. The irony is, it's not mostly the economists themselves elevating a tax from useful tool to fetish -- it's the economist-wannabes that cluster in the center-left and use their Econ 101 knowledge to signal virtue to one another. SO glad Leonhardt is opting out of that crap.

8. Another nitpick: Leonhardt says it's a "fair" criticism of the GND that "it’s a statement of principles, not a detailed policy." Uh, how is that fair? That was the whole point! The policy is being worked out now, according to the principles. Just because everyone ...

9. ... (willfully) misunderstood the point of the resolution doesn't mean its authors are at fault. Similarly with the "fair" criticism that the GND omits carbon pricing, or nuclear, or urban density, etc. Those are policies! It's not a policy document FFS!


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