Sunday, January 10, 2010

Friedman’s carbon pricing strategy won’t win the clean energy race

Cross-posted from LeadEnergy

Yet again, Thomas Friedman nails the clean energy race and fails on the policy strategy. His op-ed today, "Who's Sleeping Now?" (similar to our recent report, "Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant") claims that carbon pricing is the solution to secure U.S. competitiveness in the global clean-tech industry:

"We are either going to put in place a price on carbon and the right regulatory incentives to ensure that America is China’s main competitor/partner in the E.T. revolution, or we are going to gradually cede this industry to Beijing and the good jobs and energy security that would go with it... It is clear that if we, America, care about our energy security, economic strength and environmental quality we need to put in place a long-term carbon price that stimulates and rewards clean power innovation."
By calling for the passage of the American Clean Energy & Security Act (ACESA) -- without mentioning a single area for improvement -- Friedman implies it is strong enough to compete with Asia and drive the U.S. transition to clean energy, when in fact the bill would (1) establish a very modest price on carbon due to numerous cost-containment mechanisms like international offsets; (2) invest an order of magnitude less in clean energy technology development than a large and ever-growing number of experts say is necessary -- including dozens of Nobel Laureates, America's top research universities, Google, Brookings Institution, Breakthrough Institute, Third Way, military veterans, and others; and (3) establish a renewable electricity standard that would not ensure any increase in U.S. renewable energy deployment beyond already conservative business-as-usual projections (see here for comprehensive analysis of ACESA).

That may be acceptable to Thomas Friedman, but it is no way for the United States to lead the clean energy industry. For more on this ongoing debate, see my recent response to Friedman, "Earth to Thomas Friedman: Winning the 'Earth Race' Requires Federal Investment."

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