Roger Pielke Jr.

Climate Change as Symbolic Politics in the United States

I have an essay on climate politics forthcoming at the IEEJ (Institute for Energy Economics, Japan) Energy Journal. The title  of my essay is, “Climate Change as Symbolic Politics in the United States” and is here in PDF.  Here is the bottom line:

United States’ climate policy is highly uncertain, mainly because it is a partisan issue and US political situation is fluid. A return to Democratic leadership in the White House might see the Trump approach similarly overturned, as with the Obama approach. At the same tie, because of the focus on political symbolism over policy substance, there is a real possibility that Trump Administration ultimately does not matter much for U.S. climate policies. Instead, larger trends likely to continue to dominate (e.g., markets, prices, technology, etc.).

The question for those interested in policy to accelerate decarbonization of the US and global economies is similarly clear: Can the issue be de-politicized for 2020 and beyond in order to better focus on policy over politics? Or is climate change to remain primarily a political symbol?