Friday, June 22, 2007

Apollo program for climate change?

An Apollo Program for Climate Change. That's the provocative title in an op-ed in the Washington Post. It was written by David Sokol, who happens to be CEO of a large energy holding company owned by Berkeshire Hathaway.

The content wasn't quite what I was expecting from the title. It wasn't asking for a coordinated program toward one thing, which is the wrong approach since it will take many different technologies to stop global warming. Sokol explains:
Besides finding new ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, we need to do research to achieve breakthroughs in renewable energy, nuclear technologies and reductions in demand, as well as improvements in high-voltage transmission systems and the retrofitting of existing fossil-fuel plants. Achieving a future of low carbon emissions is not a matter of choosing one technology over another. All must play a role.

Sokol is instead asking for an Apollo-program level of funding which would be about $46 to $60 billion in todays dollars. That's a good start.

You almost couldn't tell this was written by an energy company CEO except for this dismissal of carbon caps:
Placing caps on carbon emissions before the technology is available to actually reduce those emissions will simply impose a tax on the American people without any positive environmental benefits. There has to be a better way.

Sokol goes on the say we need more than just cap-and-trade which is true but putting a price on carbon at least puts market forces at work for the climate instead of against it. How can a good capitalist like Sokol's boss Warren Buffet object to that?

P.S. Sorry for the long absence. June has been a busy month and I have another week of job-related travel ahead of me. I promise more posts in July.

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