How to beat the climate crisis? Start with carrots

September 10, 2015

To speed up progress in tackling climate change, policymakers need to build political support by investing in clean-energy industries rather than first penalizing polluters, according to a new policy paper by UC Berkeley researchers.

In the paper, published today in the journal Science, a multidisciplinary team of environmental, political and legal experts finds that instead of emphasizing cap-and-trade schemes and penalties on greenhouse gas emissions — strategies considered to be most efficient by many economists — policymakers should begin by providing benefits through green industrial policies, such as subsidies and tax rebates.

The paper comes in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Paris in December 2015.

“This paper is about how can we build political support for progress on climate policy, toward decarbonizing our energy systems,” said study lead author Jonas Meckling, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. “We find that the more green industries form or expand, the stronger the coalitions for decarbonizing energy systems become. This runs counter to the prevalent notion that pricing carbon is the first-best choice in climate policymaking.” 

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