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What the Boom Means for Climate Change

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Last week was comprehensive exam week at Patterson. This was one of the professional module questions:

Recent reports point to a rapid rise incarbon-based fuel production in the United States and in North America at large. Assuming these forecasts are accurate, what do they portend, if anything, for geopolitics (especially the policies and the interactions of the U.S., Russia, and China).  Will climate change and climate change policies be affected?

I work through my own thoughts on this question over at the Diplomat (in much shorter form than we expected from the students). Long story short, I think that the “boom,” if it materializes in anything like the manner expected, is pretty gruesome news for the prospects of climate change legislation and state action in the United States. Reasons are twofold; on the one hand, access to energy in North America helps break up the “energy independence” coalition that, in imperfect ways, united environmentalist and national security concerns about energy. On the other, it will help increase the strength of domestic energy interests (already quite powerful) that have little to gain from any kind of state action that limits carbon production or emission.

Hope I’m wrong. Thoughts?

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