Policy Analysis Case Study: Energy Use and Climate Change

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    • 00:11

      MICHAEL KRAFT: Hello, my name is Dr. Michael Kraft.I'm a Professor Emeritus of Political Science and PublicAffairs at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.I've taught policy analysis and alsoenvironmental policy and politics for quite a long time.I've also written widely on both subjects.So this is going to be a case study of how

    • 00:32

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: to apply policy analysis to the subject of energyuse and climate change.I will be discussing how policy analysis can inform choicesof policies that might address energy use and climatechange, some more than others.The objectives here are to improve your understandingof the problem of energy use and climate change and also

    • 00:54

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: of possible policy alternatives and howto sort through those alternatives to make a choice.So I'll be covering the following points--the nature of policy analysis; some background informationon energy use and climate change;some possible policy actions on climate change,particularly in light of recent controversies over the subject.

    • 01:16

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: We'll look at how to assess policy proposals for climatechange in order to inform the debate that has been,I think unfortunately, heavily partisan and ideologicaland not based as much as it shouldbe on the facts and a rational assessment of those facts.We'll look at the benefits of whatI would call hybrid or mixed policy

    • 01:37

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: actions, because no single policy is likely to provide allthat we need.And we'll draw some conclusions, and I'llpose some questions for you.Policy analysis can help with making choicesin any policy area, from education to health care

    • 01:58

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: to energy use.It means developing and using certain evaluative standardsor criteria, in combination with gathering the right kindof information or data.Maybe that's from the natural sciences.That's from economics.And you apply logic and reason to tryto sort through the information, apply the standards,

    • 02:19

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: and reach some conclusions.Why is this kind of approach useful today?Because so much of public debate is between two sidesthat are heavily partisan and ideological.Sometimes organized special interest groups get involved,and the public is given little informationor incorrect information, or only one side of an argument.

    • 02:44

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: So it makes it hard to have a sensible debate over whatto do.On this particular subject of energy and climate change,the public is often confused because therehave been active campaigns by partisanson one side or the other to try to convey informationto the public that only offers part of the answer.

    • 03:12

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: So let's start with some basics about energy useand how they relate, how the use of energyrelates to climate change.First off, where do we get our energy to power our cars,to heat and cool our homes, and to provide the resourcesthat industry needs to make automobiles, to make paper,to make chemicals and everything elsethat we do through industry?

    • 03:33

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: In the United States, fossil fuels--that is, coal, oil, and natural gas-- constitute about 82%of the energy resources we use.On a worldwide basis, it's about the same, about 84%.Those are 2014 figures.Nuclear power supplies about 8.5% of US energy.

    • 03:55

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: Renewable sources-- wind, solar, hydroelectric power, about 9%,a little higher on a worldwide basis.In short, the United States and the worldare very heavily dependent on fossil fuels-- coal, oil,and natural gas.Those fuels are very abundant.Some of them are pretty cheap.

    • 04:16

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: But they're costly to use because scientiststell us burning them over time-- we'retalking about from the 19th century to today--is said to be the leading cause of climate change.This is what we mean when we say human activities arecausing climate change.We mean the burning of fossil fuels.

    • 04:38

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: There are other causes as well.This is the main one.Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide,which is a key greenhouse gas.It's hard to shift away from release of carbon dioxidethrough the use of fossil fuels.But over time, we can certainly make a transition.There are other causes of climate change, the major ones

    • 04:59

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: being deforestation and the release of other greenhousegases, such as methane.But we'll focus on carbon dioxide, the key greenhousegas that's released when burning fossil fuels.What are the major impacts of climate changeassociated with this kind of use of energy?There are critics, of course, who questionthe scientific consensus.

    • 05:19

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: I'll take the position here there reallyis a scientific consensus, by which I mean 97% or moreof the world's climate change scientistsare in agreement with the fundamentals.We've had study after study by the IntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change- that's a United Nations body--by the US National Academy of Sciences,

    • 05:41

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: and many, many other studies.At this point, it is widely acceptedclimate change is real.The fundamental cause over the last 100, 150 yearsis human activities, particularlythe burning of fossil fuels.So there are many impacts that most of youare familiar with-- rising temperatures, that is,

    • 06:01

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: warmer summers, more moderate winters;the risks of severe heat waves; droughtssuch as that evident in California and muchof the Western part of the United States;the melting of glaciers.But this is not just about what some call global warming.And climate change is the more acceptable term, not globalwarming.And why?Because there are other effects that

    • 06:21

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: have little to do with warming, such asan abrupt and unpredictable shift in weather patterns,such as more severe storms; the frequency of severe storms;floods, and droughts; rising sea levels; threatsto coastal cities, such as New Yorkand Boston and Miami, New Orleans.So in addition to the shifts in weather patterns,

    • 06:43

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: such as severe storms and droughts,there's also an effect on agricultural productivity,farms.We rely on agriculture for our food supply.There's an effect on ecosystems.There's an effect on biological diversity or other species.There's an effect on human health.There's an effect on the economies.As populations grow, the latest estimate is by the year 2050,

    • 07:05

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: we expect to have 9.8 billion people in the worldwho need energy and who need all of these services.There's even an effect on national security.The Department of Defense has warned,the Central Intelligence Agency has warned that we need to beconcerned about climate change because of disruptions aroundthe world that may threaten the United States' security.So it is a big issue, and we need

    • 07:28

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: to think about how we're going to respond to that issue.We know enough, I think, to take action.In particular, we know enough to take actionsthat, as some put it, we would nothave regrets for later on, so-called no-regrets policy,things that we ought to do anyway, like conserve energy,

    • 07:50

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: promote energy efficiency.Even if climate change turns out not to be as bad as we thinkit is, we're not going to say, gosh, Iwish we hadn't conserved energy, because itwouldn't have mattered.Some say this is like taking out an insurancepolicy on your home.You take out fire insurance.You don't really expect your home to burn to the ground,but you just want to make sure if that happens,you're covered.

    • 08:11

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: We need to protect major cities around the world thatwould be affected by sea level, rise for example--New York, New Orleans, Boston.And that's a form of insurance.There are three general approachesto dealing with climate change, typically called prevention,mitigation, and adaptation.Some would say it's really too late for prevention

    • 08:32

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: because it's already here.And frankly, actions we take right now probablyare not going to-- say, to reduce greenhouse gasemissions, really won't have muchof an impact for 20 or 30 years.We're dealing now with the consequencesof what human beings did over the past several decades.But mitigation and adaptation are most definitely important.We can mitigate climate change by shifting,

    • 08:54

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: as Pope Francis said in 2015, moving awayfrom reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy.He called it a moral imperative.Not only renewables, but nuclear power,which is not reliant on very much fossil fuels-- it is notburning fossil fuels to generate energy-- would be another.The low-hanging fruit here, the no-regrets policy,

    • 09:17

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: would emphasize energy conservation and efficiency.We can use energy more conservatively.We can not waste energy.We can turn out lights when we leave a room.We can turn down thermostats in winteror turn them up in the summer.We can change the way we handle transportation of goodsand services and people.You know, most of the time when we drive,

    • 09:38

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: there's one person in a car drivingto work or to school and back.There are ways of getting around that, through mass transitor carpooling, for example.Mitigation and adaptation are both important.Adaptation, for example, might involvetrying to change the risk to city infrastructure

    • 09:58

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: from sea level rise.New York City's planning on this rightnow because after Hurricane Sandy,New York City and the surrounding areafound that there's about $60 to $70 billion worth of damage.And so it makes sense from their perspective,let's invest that money now so wedon't have another $60 billion bill the next timea storm of that magnitude comes along.

    • 10:20

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: California is engaged right now in a seriesof remarkable actions to change the use of waterin cities and on farmlands because they're experiencinga prolonged drought and have now realized howprecious their water supply is.That's a form of both mitigation and adaptation.Now, many corporations in cities and states around the country

    • 10:43

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: are already doing a lot on sustainability of energy use;trying to conserve energy, improve energyefficiency through heating and cooling systems;building codes.Other nations are taking action as well, but not all of them.Public policy alternatives-- what can we do.Well, research is one possibility.We can spend money, whether it's the government or corporations.

    • 11:06

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: We can spend money on new energy technologies,new approaches to wind, solar power, geothermal energy.Even something as simple as improving battery technology,which a lot of federal efforts are directed at,might help us produce better electric vehiclesand move away from burning gasolineand diesel in our cars.

    • 11:27

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: We can spur a shift to renewable energyby taxing fossil fuels, a so-called carbon tax.We could even impose such a tax with what'scalled a revenue-neutral carbon tax,or what one group calls a fee and dividend system.You tax the use of carbon-based fuels,but you return all of that tax money to individuals,

    • 11:48

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: so there's no net tax increase.And that's something that might even appeal to conservatives.In addition, we could create a market for trading carboncredits.California's doing this right now.Some European countries are.The Northeastern United States is.This is what's called a cap and trade system.You allow trading of carbon credits,

    • 12:08

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: and over time, you reduce the overall cap or allowancefor those credits.By relying on a market for trading,you promote energy efficiency.There are some regulatory measuresthat might be needed as well.In 2015, the US EPA issued what'scalled the Clean Power Plan, which

    • 12:30

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: regulates coal-fired power plants, which contributeto a substantial percentage of US greenhouse gas emissions,between 30% and 40%.We also had the Obama administration significantlyimprove vehicle fuel efficiency standards.So by the year 2025, the average carwill get something like 54 miles per gallon,

    • 12:51

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: which is a big increase over what we have today.We could also pursue public education measuresabout how people can save money and saveby reducing their energy use.We could offer financial incentivesfor use of solar power or wind power.

    • 13:13

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: So which of these policy proposals are best?That's where individual choice, on your part and others,comes into play.Which policy proposals are best?These are difficult choices.Some policies might cost a lot to develop.Expensive alternative energy systems-- one of the criticismsis that, well, fossil fuels are cheap,but alternative energy is more expensive.

    • 13:35

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: Maybe it will hurt the economy or cost jobs.Policy analysis can help by identifying those costsand benefits and what risks we might avoidby pursuing certain policies.Climate change is kind of the prototypical long-termchallenge.So whenever we assess whether we oughtto pursue one alternative over another,

    • 13:56

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: it's really important to think about the long term and notjust the next year or two or three.There are also ethical issues and equity issues,as Pope Francis noted in his 2015 encyclicalon climate change.It's what academics call intergenerational equity, whichis what's fair to future generations-- that is, equityacross generations-- as well as what the pope emphasized,

    • 14:20

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: which is what's fair to people who live in poor countries.So as I've tried to illustrate, theseare not questions that are easy to answer.What to do about climate change how much is it worth spending;what are the uncertainties; what's the right thing to do;what's the moral thing to do; what'sthe economic thing to do.Climate change is a difficult subject for policy analysis.

    • 14:42

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: It's what people in the environmental policy fieldcall a third-generation issue.We're looking at very long-term effects, uncertain but veryshort-term costs, a lot of public and corporate resistancebecause people hate to spend moneythat they think is not necessarily going to be spentin the a fruitful way.

    • 15:02

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: So I would say the first thing youdo is look to what we call low-hanging fruit.Do what's cheap and what's easy.And that would be, for example, energy conservationand efficiency.It's worth doing anyway, even if climate change is nota problem.We really can do this.And many corporations and government agenciesare already doing this.Individuals can do that in their homes

    • 15:22

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: without any public policies influencing them at all.We're also likely to be looking at hybridor a mixture of public policies--so some public education, some scientific research,some regulation.There's no single policy action that'sgoing to be the only thing we need to do.

    • 15:45

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: There'll be many different policy actions.Also, this is not going to happen at just onelevel of government.As I noted, local governments and state governments--California most notably-- are already doing a lot.The federal government is, in terms of research and in termsof supporting new energy technologies through subsidies

    • 16:06

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: of one kind or the other.There are many international efforts and effortsin individual countries around the world.Individuals are doing a lot, and corporations are doing a lot,and colleges and universities are doing a lot.Many have signed on to a national programto take climate change seriously and do what canbe done on individual campuses.Policies also are likely to change over time

    • 16:27

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: as we learn from experience.So just because we do something today doesn't meanwe have to go on doing it forever.Many actions have already been takenat the local, state, national, and international level.They vary widely.I think it's most important to fosterthe development of renewable energy resources

    • 16:49

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: to make them cheaper, to find new ways of generating energy.We have to mitigate the worst effects of climate changeto protect public health and protect economiesaround the world.We have to learn to adapt to a comingreality of climate change.That's particularly important for coastal cities and areasthat may be at risk of losing their supply of fresh water,

    • 17:12

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: for example, or are at risk of rising sea levels.Increasingly, public opinion polls tell usthe US public, as well as people in other nations,really do favor action.They take climate change seriously.They want government to do something.They favor a number of sensible public policy choices.

    • 17:32

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: But there remain political and economic obstacles.There's a strong partisan and ideological dividein the United States.So even though the polls tell us the public favor action,there's a division among the publicthat needs to be considered.This challenge will be with us for a very long time.It will require continuous action

    • 17:52

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: on the part of governments at all levels and corporationsand individuals.The effects may not be noticeablefor quite a long time.That makes this a really difficult challenge,as we have to bear in mind we're reallydoing this for our children and grandchildren, not just for us.So let me end by posing some questions for you.What do you think we should do?

    • 18:14

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: Nothing, something?Which policy ideas are most persuasive to you?What questions would you ask about the impact those policiesare likely to have?How would you persuade other peoplethat climate change is an important problemand that we ought to do something about energy issues?What would you do if you were the president

    • 18:36

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: or a member of Congress or a governoror in a state legislature?What would you choose to do?What would you do if you were the CEO or a major officialin a corporation, particularly a fossil fuelcompany that might be concerned about losing businessover time?So those are not easy questions to answer,

    • 18:57

      MICHAEL KRAFT [continued]: but I think it's certainly helpful to ask them and tryto put yourself in the position of those who will haveto make these very difficult choicesin the next several decades.

Policy Analysis Case Study: Energy Use and Climate Change

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Abstract

Dr. Michael Kraft discusses policy analysis and how to apply policy analysis to energy use and climate change. The burning of fossil fuels is one of the major causes of climate change, and the world needs to transition to alternative energy sources. Kraft discusses possible policy actions to encourage this transition, as well as the challenges that come from implementing new energy solutions.

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Policy Analysis Case Study: Energy Use and Climate Change

Dr. Michael Kraft discusses policy analysis and how to apply policy analysis to energy use and climate change. The burning of fossil fuels is one of the major causes of climate change, and the world needs to transition to alternative energy sources. Kraft discusses possible policy actions to encourage this transition, as well as the challenges that come from implementing new energy solutions.

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