Greenhouse Governance

Greenhouse Governance: Addressing Climate Change in America

Barry G. Rabe editor
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 382
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  • Book Info
    Greenhouse Governance
    Book Description:

    Public deliberation over climate change has traditionally been dominated by the natural and physical sciences. Is the planet warming? To what degree, and is mankind responsible? How big a problem is this, really? But concurrent with these debates is the question of what should be done. Indeed, what can be done? Issues of governance, including the political feasibility of certain policies and their capacity for implementation, have received short shrift in the conversation. But they absolutely must be addressed as we respond to this unprecedented challenge.Greenhouse Governancebrings a much-needed public policy mindset to discussion of climate change in America.

    Greenhouse Governancefeatures a number of America's preeminent public policy scholars, examining some aspect of governance and climate change. They analyze the state and influence of American public opinion on climate change as well as federalism and intergovernmental relations, which prove especially important since state and local governments have taken a more active role than originally expected. Specific policy issues examined include renewable electricity standards, mandating greater vehicle fuel economy, the "adaptation vs. mitigation" debate, emissions trading, and carbon taxes.

    The contributors do consider the scientific and economic questions of climate policy but place special emphasis on political and managerial issues. They analyze the role of key American government institutions including the courts, Congress, and regulatory agencies. The final two chapters put the discussion into an international context, looking at climate governance challenges in North America, relations with the European Union, and possible models for international governance.

    Contributors include Christopher Borick, Muhlenberg College; Martha Derthick, University of Virginia; Kirsten Engel, University of Arizona; Marc Landy, Boston College; Pietro Nivola, Brookings Institution; Paul Posner, George Mason University; Leigh Raymond, Purdue University; Walter Rosenbaum, University of Florida; Ian Rowlands, University of Waterloo; Henrik Selin, Boston University; Stacy VanDeveer, University of New Hampshire

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0465-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Barry G. Rabe

    • 1 Introduction: The Challenges of U.S. Climate Governance
      (pp. 3-23)

      Policy analysts and policymakers continue to search for metaphors to describe the unique complexities posed by climate change. According to economist William Nordhaus, “If global warming is the mother of all public goods, it may also be the father of decision making under uncertainty.”¹ Other policy analysts have referred to climate change as “perhaps the most hotly debated and controversial area of environmental policy ever” and as “one of the most complex challenges that the human race has ever created.”² In the final days of a federal government career that spanned five decades and included a leading role in many...

    • 2 American Public Opinion and Climate Change
      (pp. 24-57)

      Within the realm of democratic political systems, the relationship between public opinion and public policy is of paramount interest. At its core, democracy is a mechanism to translate the wants of citizens into public policy. While factors besides citizens’ desires may indeed influence government actions, there is little debate that the public’s preferences should play the preeminent role in determining the behavior of government institutions. As the issue of global warming has emerged as one of the most significant challenges facing policymakers both in the United States and abroad, it has become increasingly important to understand the attitudes and beliefs...

    • 3 Compensatory Federalism
      (pp. 58-72)

      Always confounding, federalism has also become controversial in recent years, at least in academic circles. We owe that to the Rehnquist court, which, in attempting to construct a constitutionally grounded defense of federalism, aroused an opposition.¹ But the views of the court’s academic critics are far from uniform. At an iconoclastic extreme is the work of Malcolm Feeley and Edward Rubin at the University of California, Berkeley, who tell us that we no longer have federalism inasmuch as no one is willing to sacrifice his life in defense of a state. Rather, we have “managerial decentralization.” “When there is a...

    • 4 The Politics of Vertical Diffusion: The States and Climate Change
      (pp. 73-98)

      Concerns about climate change and related environmental and energy issues have prompted a broad and diffuse set of policy responses in the United States. Following in their time-honored role as policy laboratories and innovators in the federal system, states have initiated a wide range of climate-related programs, including regional cap-and-trade regimes, state renewable energy portfolio mandates, emergent automobile tailpipe emissions standards, land use regulations, smart growth plans, and recycling incentives, among others. The federal system has provided a strong state-based pathway to policy reform that stands in stark contrast to the policy gridlock that has hamstrung full congressional approval of...


    • 5 The Emerging Revolution in Emissions Trading Policy
      (pp. 101-125)

      In the past twenty years we have witnessed a startling shift in what constitutes “acceptable” and “unthinkable” arguments regarding emissions trading and the allocation of emissions rights. We have moved from deep skepticism about creating a “right to pollute” to greater comfort with market-based approaches. At the same time, we have nearly abandoned “squatters’ rights” norms of entitlement in favor of assertions of collective public ownership of the atmospheric commons. This chapter argues that these rapid changes represent an emergent revolution in terms of policy design, with important implications for the viability of future policies to address climate change and...

    • 6 The “Impossible Dream” of Carbon Taxes: Is the “Best Answer” a Political Non-Starter?
      (pp. 126-157)

      A veritable army of economists and policy advocates have locked arms and expressed their passionate belief that the direct taxation of the carbon content of fossil fuels trumps all other policy options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Mayor Bloomberg did not disclose the identity of his advisers on the matter, but one sees daily evidence of this outpouring of support, much of it crossing traditional divides. Gregory Mankiw chaired George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers between 2003 and 2005, not exactly a high-water mark for federal engagement on climate change. However, he has since returned to Harvard University, where...

    • 7 The Long and Winding Road: Automotive Fuel Economy and American Politics
      (pp. 158-180)

      For more than thirty years, the government of the United States has been trying to reduce the nation’s voracious consumption of petroleum by regulating the fuel economy of motor vehicles. The project has not been a notable success. As of 2007, the average fuel economy of brand-new passenger vehicles in the country was, for all practical purposes, about the same as it had been twenty years earlier—under 27 miles per gallon. Countingallpassenger vehicles on the road, old as well as new, the average miles traveled per gallon of fuel stood at just 20.4.¹ That fact, combined with...

    • 8 Encouraging Renewable Electricity to Promote Climate Change Mitigation
      (pp. 181-203)

      Traditionally, electricity has served to advance diverse development goals for countless societies around the world. Increases in the extent to which communities have been “electrified” have been closely correlated with increases in the values of a range of economic indicators, including gross domestic product and employment level.¹ Indeed, it is understandable that as the world community has developed strategies to advance human welfare through mechanisms such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, ensuring “reliable electricity supply to households, businesses, public institutions, commercial establishments, and industry” has been part of the dialogue.²

      More recently, however, it has been increasingly recognized...

    • 9 Adapting to Climate Change: Problems and Prospects
      (pp. 204-226)

      Much of life, and more of public policy, involves a choice between cure and treatment, between removing the causes and adapting to the effects of trouble. Should I try to force my upstairs neighbor—who’s six and a half feet tall and has a black belt in karate—to stop playing the drums at 2 o’clock in the morning, thereby rooting out the cause, or should I buy a pair of good earplugs to adapt to the effects of the noise? Should a state deal with the effects of crime by building more prisons to get more criminals off the...


    • 10 Courts and Climate Policy: Now and in the Future
      (pp. 229-259)

      Since the beginning of the environmental movement in the early 1970s, environmental advocates have made litigation a cornerstone of their strategy to improve environmental quality. With respect to just about every environmental issue to surface—mining on federal lands, air and water pollution, hazardous and nuclear waste disposal, lead poisoning, endangered species—advocates have turned to the courts to compel regulators to impose new or more stringent regulations or to delay or stop construction projects, mining, logging, and other activities that advocates deem harmful to the environment.¹ While never an exclusive strategy, litigation has figured prominently, along with lobbying and organizing, in the environmentalists’ toolbox....

    • 11 Can Congress Govern the Climate?
      (pp. 260-285)

      The first major step taken by a branch of the federal government on climate change was the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision inMassachusetts et al.v.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency et al.This case pitted a sizable team of state and municipal officials against the executive branch of the federal government on the question of whether greenhouse gases could be defined as air pollutants under federal law. A narrow majority sided with the plaintiffs, but Bush administration resistance to such a definition resulted in additional litigation rather than closure. Virtually every branch and level of the U.S. government was...

    • 12 Greenhouse Regulation: How Capable Is EPA?
      (pp. 286-310)

      It is September 2008. David Bookbinder, the Sierra Club’s chief climate counsel, is testifying about the feasibility of regulating greenhouse gases before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. His testimony concerns the complexities involved in EPA regulation through the Clean Air Act, and he is finished—almost. As an afterthought, he poses one further consideration. “While it is clear that the Clean Air Act is well-suited to taking on greenhouse gases and climate change, I do not know whether the same is true of the agency itself,” he observes. “Given the unique challenges presented by global warming, it...


    • 13 Re-engaging International Climate Governance: Challenges and Opportunities for the United States
      (pp. 313-335)

      The United States of America—its firms, public sector, nonprofit organizations, and 300 million-plus citizens—each year emits a staggering amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the Earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore, that fact—combined with the long-standing U.S. unwillingness to enact serious federal GHG mitigation policies or to engage in international political action in good faith—is viewed as deeply unjust (and dangerous) by nearly every non-American who sits down with U.S. representatives in any international forum to discuss climate change. The arrival of the Obama administration in early 2009 raised the hopes and expectations of climate-concerned...

    • 14 Multilevel Governance and Transatlantic Climate Change Politics
      (pp. 336-352)

      At the G-8 meeting in July 2009, President Barack Obama joined the leaders of other large economies for the first time in support of the goal of keeping the world’s average temperature from rising any more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Doing so will require a steep reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the United States and other high-emitting countries over the first half of the twenty-first century. However, the weak and contested Copenhagen Accord from December 2009 failed to produce a detailed plan of implementation for reaching that goal, and global negotiations continue....

    • 15 Conclusion
      (pp. 353-366)

      The very idea of modifying the temperature of the planet by adjusting the mix of gases that are released into the atmosphere ranks among the most ambitious undertakings ever considered by human beings. An avalanche of scientific evidence demonstrates strong links between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change but can offer only sophisticated estimates, not a precise prediction, of what impact various concentrations of these gases may have on future climatic conditions. Even the seemingly more straightforward issue of measuring the cost of various policy options to reduce emissions is far more complex than is generally acknowledged. In late 2009,...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 367-368)
  9. Index
    (pp. 369-383)