Welcome to Climate Next: Brainstorming a new approach to carbon policy.

News and commentary about environmental issues.
Nov. 16 2010 11:42 AM

Welcome to Climate Next

Brainstorming a new approach to carbon policy.

Read an introductory essay from Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus and follow the responses from our panel of climate-policy experts.

American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant. Click image to expand.
A coal-fired power plant

Welcome to the Climate Next discussion.

We're tapping half a dozen innovative thinkers to move the climate debate beyond global treaties and cap-and-trade bills and to the wide world of policy options that haven't yet gotten their due.

It's time to break new ground. In a series of essays published over the next three days, we'll try to build a set of solutions that I think will look less like a climate fix and more like a statement of what industrial policy should look like in America. Outside the magic of a price on carbon, there have to be strategies for meeting the climate challenge.

So taking into account the political realities of our time, what can be done—particularly by U.S. policymakers—to start solving the dual problems of energy poverty in developing nations and global climate change?

Perhaps the most radical suggestion is to move energy research into the national security realm, with the Department of Defense pushing for breakthroughs in wind power, carbon capture, and so forth. But other ideas abound. In the near-term, as many as one-third of the nation's aging fleet of coal plants could go (or be pushed) offline. This period of transition could be a key moment for the nation's energy system.

But new policies are going to be messier than cap-and-trade's easy fix for the market; the hands of people and industries will be visible in their creation. The questions of who pays what and how will be complex. The mechanisms will be many. But, really, did anyone think you could transform the world's most important system with a little tweak far upstream?

This series aims to broaden our thinking about what to do about climate change. We're rethinking the role of utilities and the government, coal and solar, developing nations and consumers. At the very least, we're getting some alternatives out on the table so that we can compare the dominant approach of the past decades with new thinking.

In the coming week, we'll hear from a broad cross-section of energy researchers and analysts with their own critiques and plans. From the Sierra Club's Michael Brune to the American Enterprise Institute's Steven Hayward, we've challenged these thinkers to offer up radical plans and to break from conventions. We can't say that's happened in every case, but small policy innovations can take on momentum just like technologies. Armond Cohen suggests that we focus on deploying technology that we already have so that we can learn by doing; we hope that we can test our policies the same way.

1_123125_2250210_2250461_100408_climatedesk_headerimage3

Leading us off will be Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, co-founders of the Breakthrough Institute. They've long argued that cap-and-trade was a political nonstarter. Here, they lay out their reasoning and offer up an alternative route forward. This story was produced by Slate for the Climate Desk collaboration.

Like Slate on  Facebook. Follow us on  Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 9:22 AM The Most Populist Campaign of 2014
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 16 2014 8:00 AM The Wall Street Bombing: Low-Tech Terrorism in Prohibition-era New York
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 9:13 AM Clive James, Terminally Ill, Has Written an Exquisitely Resigned Farewell Poem
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.