For all the talk about capping carbon dioxide emissions at pre-determined levels in order to meet science-based projections to stave off the worst consequences of global warming, the idea of increasing the price of polluting energy sources and setting limits on pollution won't solve the problem.
That's an emerging thread of expert opinion, as Andy Revkin writes in the New York Times:
"With recent data showing an unexpected rise in global emissions and a decline in energy efficiency, a growing chorus of economists, scientists and students of energy policy are saying that whatever benefits the cap approach yields, it will be too little and come too late. ...
"What is needed ... is the development of radically advanced low-carbon technologies that will only come about with greatly increased spending by determined governments on what has so far been an anemic commitment to research and development."
That Apollo program for renewable energy that candidates like Bill Richardson talked about, that virtually every candidate has discussed, is what is needed. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have proposed expensive programs that fall somewhere between Manhattan Project-scale ($23 billion) and Apollo Program-scale ($135 billion). John McCain hasn't laid out specific costs of his energy agenda.
Still, advocates for a cap on carbon point out that there are technologies we can use now that are cleaner than burning fossil fuels, and increasing the cost of polluting energy sources would create incentives for research into game-changing new technologies.
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