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EU Climate Change Efforts – Public Sector Must Take the Reins
Eight countries in the European Union are pushing for at least 25 percent of the next EU budget to go towards projects that will combat climate change. The proposal is being discussed at a European summit this week
Matthew Huber is an associate professor of geography at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, whose research specialties include climate politics and energy and capitalism. Prof. Huber says long-term planning and infrastructure transformation will need to be led by the public sector to truly transform the energy system.
“We are in the middle of a transformation of how we think about the response to climate change.
“For decades, we have assumed we could employ market-based policies that shift incentives and behaviors in ways that transform our energy system to solve the problem. Lately, however, it is becoming clear the severity of the crisis and the short timeframe in which to solve it, means we need to see it as a public emergency on the scale of the Great Depression or WWII (and probably worse than both of those).
“Seeing climate change as a public emergency inherently negates the assumption this can be solved by the market or the private sector. It requires massive, ambitious investments guided by the public sector to rapidly transform our energy system. Long-term planning and transformation of basic infrastructure are actually best handled by the public sector (think the interstate highway system or urban wastewater treatment infrastructure).
“The idea of allocating 25 percent of the EU budget to the climate emergency seems entirely reasonable, and perhaps too low, given the scale of the problem.”
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