News Release

War Is Not an Excuse to Ignore Climate Change


The Washington Post reports: “House panel grills oil company executives on high gasoline prices.”

    Cox is senior scientist at The Land Institute and just wrote the piece “War Is Not an Excuse to Ignore Climate Change” at The Nation and TomDispatch.

He said today: “High gasoline prices have long been political kryptonite, so the Republicans, predictably, are jumping on that. And Democrats who were talking big about climate action before February 24 have suddenly gone all-in on ‘drill, baby, drill.’ The Republicans, of course, are pouncing on their opponents for that hypocrisy.

“If we could get beyond the game-playing, there’s a way to both protect consumers from inflation and ensure that every household has sufficient access to energy, and that’s price controls with rationing.”

Cox writes in his recent piece: “Speaking at a Houston clean-energy roundtable last May, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said all the right things about a damaged climate and fossil fuels. Just 10 months later, however, with that boycott of Russian oil already beginning to squeeze the economy, she returned to Houston to plead with oil and gas executives to ramp up their production to record levels. At the same time, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was urging those very companies to use the thousands of new drilling permits the administration has issued to ‘go get more supply out of the ground’ — pronto!

“The government should place caps on the numbers of barrels of oil, cubic feet of gas, and tons of coal allowed out of the ground and into the economy annually. Those caps would be ratcheted down quickly, year by year, until extraction rates and therefore greenhouse-gas emissions were driven close to zero. Such rapidly declining caps would provide the strongest possible incentive for building renewable-energy capacity and improving energy conservation and efficiency. Fuels and probably other resources would also have to be reallocated for the production of essential goods and services. For example, the massive flow of resources that now goes to the military-industrial complex could be mostly diverted toward building renewable infrastructure and, in the process, provide a far more genuine ‘national security’ for this country.

“Like today’s disruption of global oil markets, a future phase-out of fossil fuels would indeed push energy costs up. Both here in 2022 and in that future situation, the best remedy would be to keep energy affordable through price controls and by employing fair-share rationing to ensure sufficient, equitable energy access for all. Price controls and rationing were used this way with much success during World War II. Indeed, if such rationing had been employed during the energy crisis of the 1970s, it could have prevented the endless gas-station queues and the resulting misery for which that decade is now most often remembered. Back then, fair-share gas rationing drew bipartisan support. For example, both President Jimmy Carter and the conservative columnist George F. Will called for it. But by the time Carter’s standby gas-rationing plan was finally passed by Congress in 1980, it was too late to help.”

Cox is the author of The Path to a Livable Future and The Green New Deal and Beyond.