Oren Cass on Climate Change

Last month, Brad Plumer brought a fascinating discussion between Joseph Aldy, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School who served in the Obama administration, and Oren Cass, a member of Mitt Romney’s domestic policy team, on how the major party presidential candidates would address climate and energy policy. I was very impressed by Cass’s contributions to the discussion. Consider, for example, his thoughts on U.S. climate policy in the context of rising carbon emissions in East Asia:

China’s increases in coal consumption are extraordinary. In fact, over President Obama’s term, for every 1 unit of coal that has been cut in the United States, China has increased its consumption by 10. And so in that context, for the United States to take action to drive up the price of carbon in this country to try to reduce emissions is not going to address what is a global problem. What it is going to do is hurt our economy very seriously, and it’s going to drive a lot of industrial activity from the United States to countries that are frankly much less efficient in their use of energy. So the positive benefit is weakened even further in that respect.

When Governor Romney talks about a no regrets policy, what he means is the policies that we can pursue that will move forward, particularly with technological innovation, to find solutions without having negative effects on our economy in the interim. And so we’ve had a debate already about what the right way to facilitate that technology is. Governor Romney’s view is that the private sector can do the best job, that basic research funding is the appropriate role for government, and that more aggressive subsidization and investment by the government can in fact have a counterproductive effect on innovation in the private sector.

Cass is the kind of person I’d like to see in a senior policy role in the executive branch. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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