Friday, November 13, 2015

Greening the Debate

The Blue Marble—Earth seen by Apollo 17 in 1972
How nice it would be if the 11/14 debate participants would offer up some clear ideas about what can and must be done to combat climate change.  Here is one possibility from the economist, Robert Pollin, layed out in a Boston Review forum article about a year ago:

"Federal building efficiency program. In 2007 Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which mandates that 75 percent of the more than 300,000 buildings owned by the federal government undergo efficiency retrofits. The goal is to reduce energy usage by 30 percent by 2015, relative to 2003 levels. But even though the bill passed with bipartisan support, there has been little progress in bringing the project to scale. By May of this year, only 1,702 buildings had been retrofitted, about 0.3 percent of the number targeted. Yet the government reports that even this modest level of implementation produced $840 million in annual energy savings for taxpayers. Advancing the project would easily save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars per year. It would also demonstrate to private building owners how much they can save through retrofitting."

You would think that the possibility to "...easily save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars per year" would catch to eye of just about any politician, and as Pollin notes the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 did have bipartisan support.  Realistically, though, in view of the vacumn of ideas among the Republican candidates, my expectation would be that all of them would suggest that simply down-sizing government would achieve the same objectives as retrofitting federal buildings.  Of course, the first target on their government hit list would be the Environmental Protection Agency, leaving us no objective way to measure climate damage, or to map out and enforce mitigation efforts.

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