US Federal Energy and Climate Change legislation: Some Lessons to be Learned from the Waxman-Markey Bill

This article analyzes the Waxman-Markey Bill to identify lessons to be learned from past efforts to pass US federal energy and climate change legislation. Overall, the message is that Presidential leadership will be necessary to pass such legislation, which is currently facing both stiff resistance from special interests and complacency from the public. The case for action has to be put more convincingly. One argument that deserves greater attention is that the economic costs of doing nothing are potentially high for important sectors of the U.S. economy. Delaying legislation could leave companies from the United States lagging behind their competitors in the growing global market for new low-carbon services and technologies.

The remainder of this article is organised as follows. Section II includes a brief analysis of the Waxman-Markey Bill and identifies three lessons that will be examined, respectively, in Sections III-V. The last section offers some concluding comments. Overall, the message is that WM is a reasonable starting point for future U.S. legislation. However, there are a number of amendments that would improve it, in particular to better promote innovation in low-carbon technologies and to further limit emissions early on, especially from existing coalbased generation stations. However, the real challenge today is to obtain the necessary political and public support to pass legislation that is at least as robust as WM in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This will require Presidential leadership and a clearer focus on the potential economic benefits of such legislation, in order to overcome public indifference and strong political opposition. This paper argues that some economic benefits, especially those related to induced innovation to supply a global market in low carbon services and technologies, deserve greater attention than they have received to date.

Copyright: © Lexxion Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Quelle: Issue 2/2010 (Juni 2010)
Seiten: 12
Preis inkl. MwSt.: € 41,65
Autor: Dr. David Robinson

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