The climatic case for Obama

by John Quiggin on November 6, 2012

I don’t have a vote in the US election and, even if I had taken the necessary steps, I would be unlikely to live anywhere my vote counted, with the possible exception of northern Virginia. On the other hand, as someone who lives on the same planet as 300 million or so Americans, I do have a stake in the outcome.

If I had a vote that might be decisive, I would vote for Obama. Despite having failed to mention climate change in the campaign, or to push at all hard for the Waxman-Markey bill for an emissions trading, he has put in place regulations that will significantly reduce US emissions, to the point where the announced target of a 17 per cent reduction between 2005 and 2020 looks achievable. Regulation isn’t the most efficient means of reducing emissions, but I’m happy to leave that choice to the US political system.

If Obama wins, fuel efficiency regulations for cars and emissions limits for power stations will be locked in, and there will be hope for more in the future. If Romney wins, they will be repealed or not enforced. That’s enough reason for me to hope that Nate Silver’s odds are right.