As ‘Climate Crisis’ inches through the ‘issue attention’ cycle, a wiser approach should emerge

By Steven Koonin, Stanford’s Hoover Institution and author
The Wall Street Journal
June 10, 2024
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US East

The 2015 Paris Agreement aspired to “reduce the risks and impacts of climate change” by eliminating GHG emissions. The centerpiece of the strategy was a global transition to low-emission energy systems. After nearly a decade, it’s timely to ask how that energy transition is progressing. A useful framework is the “issue attention cycle” described in 1972 by Brookings Institution economist Anthony Downs. The five phases mark the rise, peak, and decline in public salience of major environmental problems. It’s spooky to see how closely the energy transition has so far followed Downs’s description. …The challenges have long been evident. …There are signs that the “climate crisis” has entered Downs’s Phase III, when ambitious goals collide with techno-economic realities. …We should welcome, not bemoan this. It means that today’s ineffective, inefficient, and ill-considered climate-mitigation strategies will be abandoned, making room for a more thoughtful and informed approach. [to access the full story a WSJ subscription is required]

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