A lot of the people who are in favor of passage of Waxman-Markey have argued that it’s important to get some American climate regulations on the books in order to convince the world we’re serious, thereby pushing them to make further changes. Sometimes when people make this argument, certain libertarians and conservatives get themselves all worked up and apoplectic. How does this work, they want to know. What crazy game theory model are you using that gives this result? In my mind, no rational actor behaves in such a fashion. Etc.


[W]e are already beginning to see some of the results of the Obama administration’s turnaround from inherited Bush policies on climate change, as well as the movement of Waxman-Markey. Australia, for example, is now more likely to pass climate legislation. The first sentence of this Reuters report says why:

Australia’s emissions trading laws look more likely to pass a hostile Senate after U.S. Congressional support for a similar climate bill eroded political opposition in Australia to carbon trading.

Elsewhere, America has been bumped up a spot on this ranking of G8 countries’ climate policies. Canada is now last, thanks to recent developments in the US and Canada’s own failure to hit its Kyoto targets. This will focus Canadian minds: last place, behind America?

Yes, Waxman-Markey is expensive and won’t save the world alone. But it does change the political dynamics. As Sir David King, a former chief science advisor to the British government, put it the other day, other countries were once happy to hide behind America. They no longer can.



  1. Since I’ve been pretty noisy in my “why not wait until 2011?” comments, I should say that to the extent that I paid any attention to this dynamic, I didn’t expect a weak, watered-down Waxman-Markey bill to do us much good on the international stage. Apparently I was wrong.

    And I certainly wouldn’t have expected the mere fact of a bill getting through the House alone to change the game elsewhere. But given that it has, I’ve got to root for something nominally resembling W-M to make it through the Senate.

  2. NAB says:

    Umm, China? India? Indonesia?