Climate Creativity

Carbon Inequality: Why We Need A Green Revolution in the Midwest

In Carbon Geography:  The Political Economy of Congressional Support for Legislation Intended to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Production, Michael Cragg and Matthew Kahn demonstrate how geographic carbon inequality in the United States has produced political gridlock in Washington. Representatives from areas with higher per-capita carbon emissions are much less likely to vote in favor of emission-reduction acts, because cap and trade laws would stifle the growth of valuable coal factories in their districts. The trend is shown strikingly on a US map (taken from their paper):

Per Capita Emissions

The conservative, rural Midwest, with its high per capita carbon emissions, would face a dramatically higher “carbon bill” than would the more liberal, low-carbon coasts. These stratified carbon costs help explain the recent struggle of the American Clean Energy Act to produce significant steps towards CO2 reductions: in order to appease carbon-intense states, Waxman-Markey had to concede 80% of its cap and trade auctions, channeling funds back to polluting utilities.

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