Focus on innovations in energy, reduction of air and water pollution, and community resilience to extreme weather – instead of “climate policy” – and you’ll have a winning strategy (or, hedging, a policy that has a chance of success). That is the argument made by a new report titled Climate Pragmatism: Innovation, Resilience and No Regrets, released yesterday by the Hartwell group (available here), that has found its way into the popular press with an article in Time magazine. Writing for Time, Bryan Walsh summarized this line of thinking with the title, Fighting Climate Change by Not Focusing on Climate Change. Walsh says:
What’s needed in this long hot season is an oblique approach to climate change, one that sidesteps the roadblocks by taking advantage of popular, no-regrets actions that are worth doing even if global warming wasn’t real. It’s not as simple or as elegant as one global deal — but it might actually work.
I tend to like the idea of a strategy that might have a chance of garnering support, if for no other reason than the fact that constant ideological battles are draining. Pragmatism is where global climate policy is brought down to the community scale and to the sphere in which planners and designers work (see previous post), but it is also fragmented and incremental – and an anathema to many who have fought long and hard for international climate policy. Joe Romm, of Think Progress, has written a scathing, almost hysterical, rebuttal of the pragmatism report that you can find here. David Roberts of Grist has a more generous review here.