In this issue Robert Pollin—Professor of Economics and Co- Director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst—presents a proposal to transform U.S. energy policy to meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s goal of cutting emissions 40 percent by 2030.
Pollin tells us how it can be done. The core of his proposal is a clean energy investment program that will cost the equivalent of 1.2 percent of U.S. GDP. Pollin’s program is not a root-canal scheme of zero (or negative) growth. We can move to renewable energy without harming American workers or damaging our economy. Backed by years of research supported by the Center for American Progress, Pollin shows how we can meet these goals by scaling up new technologies and scaling back entrenched interests. Other countries have been making serious cuts in emissions. And emerging economies need our fair contribution on this issue as their own energy needs grow. (BR will be publishing Pollin’s book on greening the global economy this fall.)
Responding to Pollin’s urgent call to action, economists, scientists, policy experts, and others consider where the plan might falter, whether nuclear energy must be included, how to invest most wisely, and what our obligations to other countries are, as we respond to the domestic challenge.
Those challenges—especially the political ones—are considerable. Other parts of this issue explore the hurdles: while Americans care deeply about environmental issues, climate change does not rank nearly as high as more traditional environmental concerns, such as air and water quality (“Who Cares about Climate Change?”). The political challenge is to build public support for environmental quality into a concerted response to climate change.
Back in the office, Boston Review is happy to welcome Stefania Heim as our newest poetry editor. She joins Timothy Donnelly and B. K. Fischer in curating the poetry and criticism in each issue. Heim, who is completing her PhD at CUNY Graduate Center, is author of the poetry collection A Table That Goes On for Miles. We are thrilled to have Stefania on board.