Congratulations, Mr. President. Now let’s get to work.
Because you mentioned climate change one time in your acceptance speech, the writers and readers for whom that subject is of paramount importance (on either side) have let 1,000 flowers bloom in less than a day.
Andrew Revkin did the best job of it, talking through many of the items that should be on the agenda for your next four years. But he was hardly alone. Keith Kloor chimed in, as did the politics blog on my hometown newspaper, the SF Gate, which catalogued responses from the Energy and Environmental Great and Good.
I will be shorter and simpler. You will not be able to do anything useful regarding climate change if you do not look at energy consumption at the same time. With that in mind, the first step is screamingly obvious.
Institute a carbon tax at the low level of $12 / ton of CO2. Make it revenue neutral, lowering social security taxes on both employers and employees by the amount raised from the carbon tax. Add a provision that will re-evaluate the monetary value of the tax every ten years based on benchmark levels of CO2 concentrations, U.S. CO2 emissions per capita and global sea surface temperatures.
Do not hypothecate revenues to energy efficiency or renewables, or anything else. If you want Republican support, make the tax revenue neutral.
If you do this and this alone, you will have done more to solve the problems of climate change than any other government body or multinational institution. If you do this and this alone, it will have a real-world impact, serve as an example for the world and prove our commitment to climate change and responsible governance.
There are 100 other things you could do. But each of them come with caveats and trade-offs that will cause more controversy and delay in passage and implementation.
Do this one thing. Do it now.
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