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Posts Tagged ‘carbon caps’

Yesterday, I wrote with a sense of urgency, about the need for Americans to start questioning their materialistic excesses. And I advocated in no uncertain terms, for a shift in individual behaviors. Not everybody agrees. Last month I attended an E2 presentation by Rick Duke, Director of Center for Innovation at NRDC, and also ex-McKinsey consultant. The topic was a recent McKinsey report on ‘Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?‘. The ground-breaking study was co-sponsored by a group of environmental and corporate heavy weights: NRDC, DTE Energy, Environmental Defense, Honeywell, National Grid, PG&E, and Shell. From E2:

Rick Duke followed by presenting McKinsey’s findings, which showed that the U.S. can cost-effectively address global warming – doing our part to avoid potential adverse climate impacts estimated to range as high as 20 percent of GDP – if we act immediately and comprehensively to start redirecting capital from old polluting infrastructure to clean solutions. Building, vehicle and appliance efficiency will play a critical role – generating net economic benefits that roughly pay for more expensive measures needed to clean up energy supply. Lastly, Rick emphasized that to enable businesses to scale up solutions, we urgently need three kinds of policy innovation: 1) measures to overcome non-price barriers to energy efficiency, e.g. smart regulation to ensure utilities can profit from delivering efficiency; 2) an effective cap on carbon emissions that puts a price on greenhouse gas pollution; and 3) incentives to develop and deploy emerging low-carbon solutions.

What the E2 summary does not cover, is the point Rick Duke made during his presentation about Americans not needing to make sacrifices in their way of life. This assumes the U.S. implement the policies recommended in the McKinsey report. The sigh of relief in the audience was palpable. You mean, I can keep going. The powers in charge will take care of things? Peter Waldman, also present during the presentation, protested that policy innovation was no substitute for some of the hard choices citizens ought to make. Choices such as driving less and consuming less.

Rick Duke‘s answer: sure, it’s great if people green their lifestyles, but what are the odds? In the mean time, let us forge ahead with policy innovation. I agree with him, and I also want to point the danger of his concurrent message. We cannot afford the luxury of ignoring the role of individual behaviors. It will take all, policy makers, businesses, and citizens, to reach a carbon neutral state.

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