A New Path for U.S. Climate Politics: Choosing Policies That Mobilize Business for Decarbonization

Published date01 September 2019
AuthorJonas Meckling
Date01 September 2019
Subject MatterPrescriptions: Climate Change
82 ANNALS, AAPSS, 685, September 2019
DOI: 10.1177/0002716219862515
A New Path for
U.S. Climate
Policies That
Business for
862515ANN The Annals of The American AcademyA New Path For U.S. Climate Policy
What policies could mobilize business support for pro-
gressive and durable national climate policy in the
United States? I examine the climate policy experi-
ences of U.S. states and propose that a national clean
energy standard combined with carefully allocated
public investment in clean energy infrastructure and
innovation could mobilize economic interests in sup-
port of decarbonization. Further, I argue that the more
entrenched clean energy and infrastructure become,
the more likely it becomes that comprehensive climate
policies can be passed in the future. This includes per-
formance and deployment mandates beyond the elec-
tricity industry, including in the transport and building
sectors. These initial steps may also help to build a
winning coalition for progressive federal carbon pric-
ing, as opposed to an accommodative coalition in sup-
port of weak carbon pricing.
Keywords: climate policy; carbon pricing; clean
energy; business power; policy feedback
The challenge of climate policy has long been
understood as one of internalizing negative
externalities. In other words, we have viewed
climate policy largely as the need to regulate the
negative effects of fossil fuel production and con-
sumption. Policy proposals have tended to focus
on economically optimal solutions, centered on
carbon pricing in the form of either carbon taxes
or cap-and-trade systems. By and large, econo-
mists see these pricing instruments to be first-
best policy options in terms of cost-effectiveness
Correspondence: meckling@berkeley.edu
Jonas Meckling is an assistant professor of energy and
environmental policy at the University of California,
Berkeley. His latest book is Carbon Coalitions: Business,
Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading
(MIT Press 2011). Previously, he served as senior advi-
sor to the German Minister for the Environment.
NOTE: I am grateful for comments by participants of
the Policy Feedback Project Workshop at Harvard
University and the Technology-Policy Feedback
Workshop at ETH Zurich.

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