My new post: Jay Inslee has put out his first round of climate-policy proposals, focused on electricity, new cars, and new buildings. It’s good stuff, ambitious but backed up with wonky detail. I hope it spurs the other candidates to raise their games. https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/5/4/18527458/climate-change-jay-inslee-for-president-2020?utm_campaign=drvox&utm_content=chorus&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter …
1. I want to add one additional thought to my review of Inslee's (first round of) climate policies. It has to do with the Clean Energy Standard: the requirement that utilities get to 100% clean electricity by 2035.
2. The more I've pondered it, the more I think that this (a national CES) is the right place to start. It's a good opening bid, a good standard bearer, a good way to introduce the national decarbonization mission to the American public.
3. Several reasons. First & most importantly: everyone loves clean energy! Seriously, look at any poll. "Should we require utilities to use more clean energy?" gets insanely high numbers, across regions, parties, & demographics. Everyone. Loves. Clean. Energy.
4. It was always crazy to put carbon pricing up front. The best way to sell carbon pricing was always, "it will spur clean energy!" (Because, ahem, everyone loves clean energy.) But it was a bankshot -- allegedly beneficial ends through obviously & tangibly punitive means.
5. A CES appeals to the public's love of clean energy much more directly. So the politics are easier. Secondly, energy standards have a long history of development & operation at the state level. They are tried & tested. We know they work & we know they've proven resilient.
6. They don't require any speculative tools or new bureaucracies. Their costs are obscure enough that they don't trigger sticker shock. And (Inslee's plan waves at this a little) they can be customized to the circumstances of each individual state. It's a robust, tested tool.
7. Third, CESs are productive policies, meaning that they work to shift public opinion & lay the groundwork for subsequent action. We know that nothing spreads clean energy (& positive sentiment about it) faster than *seeing* it. It is socially "contagious."
8. A national CES will make clean energy visible in every state. Another way of putting that: climate concern will send its best & most effective ambassador to every state.
9. Finally, a CES can bracket the utterly unproductive clash between proponents of renewable energy & fans of nuclear & CCS. It just says, "any carbon-free source can compete." That battle can work itself out later; it doesn't need to impede efforts to get started.
10. So, anyway. Obviously a nat'l CES is not enough (we'll need other sectoral tools & an economy-wide carbon price of some kind, at the very least). But it is a) a huge chunk of the solution, b) the most popular tool in the toolbox, & c) a way to leverage subsequent policy.
11. I'm glad it was the first item on Inslee's list & hope it can get a headline spot in the Dem policy push in 2020. At least that's where I'm at currently. Lemme know your thoughts! </fin>
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