Carol Browner, Obama’s Commie Climate-Czar, Says Tax-and-Trade Bust in 2009

From the New York Times, “Obama Aide Concedes Climate Law Must Wait” (via Memeorandum):

President Obama’s top climate and energy official said Friday that there was virtually no chance Congress would have a climate and energy bill ready for him to sign before negotiations on a global climate treaty begin in December in Copenhagen.

The remarks by the official, Carol M. Browner, during an onstage interview in Washington, were the first definitive statement by the administration that it saw little chance of Congressional passage this fall.

Lawmakers and environmental campaigners have cast similar doubts on the prospect in recent weeks, given the high priority put on health care legislation and the array of hearings that would be needed on the energy initiative, to say nothing of the time needed to reconcile competing versions of it. Climate legislation was introduced in the Senate only Wednesday, a full three months after the House passed its version.

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“Obviously we’d like to be through the process – that’s not going to happen,” Ms. Browner said at a conference on politics and history organized by The Atlantic magazine. “I think we would all agree the likelihood you would have a bill signed by the president on comprehensive energy by the time we would go in early December is not likely.”

Good thing.

There’s an interesting piece in the latest Foreign Affairs on the Copenhagen Conference, “Copenhagen’s Inconvenient Truth.” Although the author, Michael Levi, accepts the flawed science of the global warming hysterics, he nevertheless offers an interesting critique of the left’s push for cap-and-trade legislation:

Americans accustomed to thinking about climate diplomacy within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol may assume that the obvious next step is to translate reduction goals into emissions caps, put them in a treaty, and establish a system for global carbon trading. But this would be problematic for three reasons.

First, negotiators from developing countries would insist on much less stringent caps than whatever they thought they could meet. Higher caps would give them a cushion by maximizing the odds of their remaining in compliance even if their domestic policies for cutting emissions failed. Likewise, these loose caps would protect them if their economies shifted in unexpected ways that increased their emissions, as happened in China in the early part of this decade and could happen in India in the future. Inflated targets could also let developing countries collect large sums of money in exchange for little effort, if they were allowed to sell surplus emissions permits in a global cap-and-trade system. But potentially enormous financial flows from wealthy countries to poorer ones would make the system politically toxic in the West.

Second, even if a developing country met its agreed emissions cap, other nations would, in the near term, have little way of verifying this, since most developing countries, including China and India, lack the capacity to robustly monitor their entire economies’ emissions. This would be doubly problematic if developing countries were allowed to sell excess emissions permits as part of a global cap-and-trade system, since errors in calculating emissions could lead to a situation in which wealthier countries transferred massive amounts of money to poorer ones that appeared to have cut their emissions more deeply than they actually had.

And finally, even if the problems of excessively high caps and poor verification could be solved, simple caps would have little value on their own. Canada is a case in point. Ottawa will soon exceed its Kyoto limit by about 30 percent, yet it will face no penalty for doing so because the Kyoto parties never agreed on any meaningful punishments. The United States and others have essentially no way to hold countries such as China and India to emissions caps short of using punitive trade sanctions or other blunt instruments that would make a mess of broader U.S. foreign policy. Obsessing narrowly in Copenhagen over legally binding near-term caps for developing countries is therefore a waste of time.

The solution to all three problems is to focus on specific policies and measures that would control emissions in the biggest developing countries and on providing assistance and incentives to increase the odds that those efforts will succeed. Such bottom-up initiatives could include, among other things, requiring efficient technology in heavy industry, subsidizing renewable energy, investing in clean-coal technology, improving the monitoring and enforcement of building codes, and implementing economic development plans that provide alternatives to deforestation.

These measures would not be any less binding than emissions caps in practice. Moreover, if designed properly — and if they add up to deep enough cuts in each country’s emissions — they would be far more likely to work. Actual emissions cuts happen because of policies, not promises, and the simple fact that governments could directly control these policies would increase the likelihood of success. Monitoring compliance would also be easier, since policies, unlike emissions targets, must be codified in law and reflected in specific changes on the ground. Developing countries could focus much of their near-term efforts on specific measures that dovetail with other objectives — such as reducing oil imports or cutting air pollution — making them more attractive and hence more likely to be implemented. Moreover, they could be linked to incentives from the outside, such as subsidized sales of efficient U.S. technology, which could be more effective and politically palatable than the simple but blunt financial incentives of a global cap-and-trade system.

More at Memeorandum. And also, the Blog Prof, “What to do as unemployment inches up towards 10%? Climate czar Carol Browner thinks it’s time to push cap-and-trade and tax each household at $1,700.”

Plus, from the Real World, “THE ACROSS THE BOARD BETRYAL OF ‘CAP & TRADE’.”

Image Credit: Astute Bloggers, “OBAMA: “

Cross-posted from American Power.”

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