Dave Roberts interviews Doug Holtz-Eakin about John McCain’s climate policy. The whole interview, including the fact that the McCain campaign bothered to send a high-level surrogate to talk to Grist about climate change, is the sort of thing that might lead a person to note that though either Clinton or Obama would be preferable to McCain, McCain would be preferable to Bush.
On climate, it seems to me that aside from a curious devotion to nuclear power, McCain’s big blind spot has to do with transportation issues. It’s true that we shouldn’t underestimate the power of American consumers and businesspeople to adopt to an environment where a carbon cap puts a price on emissions. But the free market can’t do things like provide commuter rail lines and subways or denser living patterns to help people adapt. The market is already adapting to rising gas prices and increased congestion by enhancing the relative value of homes in walkable neighborhoods or near transit. It’s adapting by making those places more expensive. Along with capping carbon emissions, we need to increase the supply of places like that, so as to put them within reach of a reasonable number of people. That requires government action — much of the necessary action is actually deregulatory action, but it’s action nonetheless — and not just the “cap and forget about it” philosophy.
But all things considered this is pretty good stuff. Unfortunately, one suspects that the difficult task of getting China on board for climate policy would be rendered much, much more difficult by McCain disastrous approach to foreign policy.