Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Founded by Mark Kleiman (1951-2019)
Electric vehicles and more
Severin Borenstein, one of the high-candlepower sources in the energy/environment community, has an excellent post on things that make sense and things that don’t for improving energy behavior in transportation.Â Just read it.
I would only cavil at his easy identification of a climate charge (erroneously called a carbon tax) and a cap-and-trade scheme (which is not his main point).Â These are not Tweedledum and Tweedledee, no matter how many times economists assume the canopener of “when the market equilibrates we get the same result with either one”.Â Â Â Just one example of a Really Big Difference: to set a climate charge, the government needs to know how much greenhouse gases (GHG) are being emitted now, and the damage one more ton causes at that level, i.e., the marginal benefit of reduction over a narrow range around current conditions.Â This is not chopped liver, but consider that to set the cap for a cap-and-trade scheme the government needs to know this whole marginal benefit function for reducing discharges over a fairly wide range, and also the same function for costs of reduction, to see where they cross.Â The latter of these has been historically very difficult to construct, as it comprises mostly predictions of the cost of doing things we have never done.Â Remember in the seventies, when engineers and executives at all the car companies came to Washington and swore that the slightest messing with exhaust pollution would make all our cars stop in the middle of the street, cost a fortune, and generally cripple all of American culture.Â They probably believed it, but it doesn’t matter: they were wrong by a country mile.Â Estimates of the cost of GHG reduction will also be way too high, and one of the great advantages of the carbon charge is that it doesn’t require us to make them.
Author: Michael O'Hare
Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training.
He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.
Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at UniversitÃ Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs.
At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4Ã—5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.
View all posts by Michael O'Hare
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