"The Climate War" By Eric Pooley: How Cap and Trade Became The Climate Answer, For Better Or Worse (Book Review)


Now that the political prognosticators have sounded the death knell for cap and trade, it seems like a good time to look back on what got us here. Eric Pooley, the deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek, has new book out, "The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers and the Fight to Save the Planet," which tells the story of how cap and trade became the preferred policy instrument for greens, the coalition of the willing in corporate America, and policymakers serious about climate action--and how we continue to not act while time runs out. The book reads like the popular election retelling "Game Change," taking you behind the scenes into the discussions between powerful interests bent on getting something done about climate change. It begins in Bali, in 2007, when the Bush administration was doing everything in its considerable power to subvert the international process to get a global deal. Al Gore makes his first appearance in the book then, swooping in to speak out and rally the forces against the intractable forces of inaction.

Gore, along with Jim Rodgers of Duke Energy, a mysterious and powerful industry voice whose true motives remain obscured to this day, and Fred Krupp, Executive Director of EDF, are at the center of the story. To readers on the Left who demand nothing less than what the science demands, Pooley's lionizing of these three might seem incongruous with reality. To others who think that we need a framework for reducing emissions--just about any framework that caps emissions--the behind the scenes maneuvering of Krupp and Rodgers as they develop USCAP and push for economy-wide cap will be a story of great heroism.

The story is packed with juicy details about backroom deals and odd bedfellows, none more strange than Krupp's alliance with GOP spinmeister Frank Lutz. The marriage is imperfect, and shows one of the movement's major flaws--the failure to settle on a consistent message. While the opposition counters with the consistently gross cap-and-tax rhetoric, the greens run through security, climate impacts, energy independence, pollution, health, and more. Pooley's account details the fractured nature of the green groups, with relationships strained by competition for limited financial resources and attention.

If you need a distraction from the depressing climate headlines, give Pooley's account a read. It's informative and a real pager turner for those interested to see how we arrived at a time when we are experiencing record temperatures and runaway emissions but Washington continues to fail to act.