Best of Times, Worst of Times


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way… Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

After two-and-a-half years of work and $2.5 million of investment in research and writing, the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) will shut down on April 30. We will end the project in a political and social climate much like that described by Charles Dickens.

Of all the important changes that have occurred since we began PCAP in January 2007, the biggest of course was the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President. We now have a leader who understands the threat of global climate change; who believes that the path out of economic crisis is green; and who has begun to rally and prod the Congress and the American people to action.

That type of leadership was PCAP’s fondest aspiration. We’ve tried to help by producing hundreds of proposals for how the President could jump start federal climate leadership in 100 days and, longer term, reinvent the federal policies and programs that were created by and for the industrial era. At risk of overwhelming the new Administration with ideas, we set out to demonstrate that climate action can and must involve much more than a cap-and-trade bill in Congress, as important as that bill is.

To create the action plan, we contracted or corresponded with more than 400 people in the energy, climate and environmental fields, including some in Obama’s election campaign and some who now are part of the Administration.

In the process, I’ve discovered a few principles that I believe should guide national policy. I’ve summarized them for political leaders, policy wonks and posterity in a two-part presentation on the web, titled “The Fierce Urgency of Now”. Continued...

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