Do We Need a 'Dow Jones' Index To Track Climate Change?

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photo: Rafael Matsunaga via flickr

It should come as no great surprise to regular TreeHugger readers that the emission reductions House's climate bill got so cut back by corporate interest that the whole thing needs radical strengthening to meet scientific muster. The Senate's (when they get around to it) isn't likely to be much better. One interesting way to strengthen the final bill has been proposed in a recent piece from Yale Environment 360. Author Daniel Abbasi, of MissionPoint Capital Partners, proposes a Dow Jones-type index for climate change:Climate Index Would Utilize Existing 'Look-Back' Provision
Abbasi's Global Climate Change Index would take advantage of "scientific look-back" provisions in the House bill to incorporate future scientific recommendations into emission reductions efforts. Abbasi describes how it would work:

The so-called look-back provision calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to report to Congress in 2013 on the latest scientific developments and emissions-reducing solutions. The National Academies of Science would review those findings one year later. These reviews would be repeated every four years, assessing whether the U.S. climate program is on track to hit its emissions targets and whether those targets should be altered.

A group of top scientists would be charged with devising a continuously updated index of measurable climate change impacts to inform policy makers, business people, and the public at large about the severity and pace of climate change, and to provide guidance on whether caps on carbon should be raised or lowered.

Which Would Need to be Strengthened
This would of course require that the current look back provision is not only maintained in the final climate bill, but also strengthened. Under Abassi's proposal it would have to be structured in such a way that it "could be used to obligate the President to tighten greenhouse gas emissions targets if climate change impacts intensify, without requiring elusive future legislative action by Congress."

I can see countless eyes rolling now... 'without legislative action by Congress...'

With people carrying posters of President Obama done up like Hitler, not to mention assault rifles to health care rallies, I wouldn't hold out hope right now.

But the index remains an interesting idea...

GCCI Would Provide Predictability for Business
Abbasi points out that a GCCI would provide businesses a measure of predictability regarding future climate action, as they would be able to monitor the index and anticipate future changes.

He also points out that a GCCI would "create a middle ground between the...often impenetrable texts like the IPCC report and the oversimplified news stories about the latest ice bridge collapse in Antarctica that lack context on the overall climate change problem.

So, what do TreeHugger readers think? Check out the full original article -- A 'Dow Jones' For Climate: The Case for a Global Warming Index -- and come back here and weigh in.

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