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Colloquium: Danny Cullenward
April 15, 2015 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm PST
SPEAKER Danny Cullenward Philomathia Research Fellow 2013-2015 U.C. Berkeley TITLE The Future of U.S. Climate Policy: Building Sustainable Legal Regimes Climate policy proponents tend to view policy developments either as wins or losses, with little room for nuance. When a government announces a new climate policy, the “good guys” support it and the “bad guys” oppose it—usually without regard to the details of whether and how the policy will work. To be fair, this tendency reflects the deep partisan divide in American politics, where a win for your team is a win for your issue, and vice versa. Nevertheless, I argue that many U.S. climate movement actors—especially those in the non-profit and academic sectors—are pursuing tribal political strategies to the detriment of successful policy implementation. With a narrow focus on visible wins, advocates have limited tolerance for criticism of friendly policymakers, on whom non-profits’ political strategies rest. Similarly, academics gain prestige and influence by advising policymakers, but providing critical advice puts those benefits at risk. Collectively, these incentives contribute to an underinvestment in the public interest throughout the process by which policy negotiations become law. Yet if climate policy is to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades, its proponents will need to develop and sustain a coherent legal regime that binds future stakeholders to a mitigation trajectory and set of policy instruments—far more than just a simple “win”. Drawing on examples from state, federal, and international policy, I make the case for a renewed emphasis on the legal integrity of climate policy implementation, on both pragmatic and ethical grounds. Danny Cullenward is the Philomathia Research Fellow at UC Berkeley. A lawyer, economist, and earth scientist by training, he works on the design and implementation of science-based climate policy. Before coming to Berkeley, Danny earned a BS, MS, PhD, and JD from Stanford, where he was a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Stanford Graduate Fellow.