Public Release: 

How can we address the gap between climate science and policy?

American Association for the Advancement of Science

This news release is available in Japanese.

In this Policy Forum, Jonas Meckling et al. discuss the need to close the gap between climate science and policy, arguing that targeted policies and economic incentives are the answer, rather than broad carbon taxes. As policymakers convene at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December, pinpointing the best policies is critical for a more sustainable future. In theory carbon pricing poses as an efficient solution, but this has yet to be seen in practice. As the authors point out, carbon regulation imposes costs on the powerful few (e.g., energy-intensive manufacturing firms) and provides dispersed benefits to the weak many (e.g., the broader public). Instead the authors emphasize targeted green industry policies that offer economic incentives and spur industry shifts. For example, Germany has implemented a feed-in law where owners of renewable energy systems are paid for per kilowatt they generate. These types of policies are effective for initiating a trend toward decarbonization because they offer concrete benefits to firms and households, are much easier to understand than carbon taxes, and can link climate policies with local issues, the authors say. Lastly Jonas Meckling et al. argue that the sequence of policy implementation is key: only once the targeted policies are in place should more broad and efficient policies such as a carbon tax be implemented. Following any international commitments to a greener future, the authors say, the real test will be the extent to which governments are capable of building and growing domestic coalitions that strengthen these commitments over time.

###

Article #1: "Winning coalitions for climate policy," by J. Meckling; N. Kelsey; E. Biber; J. Zysman at University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, CA.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.