Why has climate legislation failed? An interview with Theda Skocpol..
Posted by Brad Plumer on January 16, 2013 at 10:02 am
One of Skocpol’s key insights is that health care reformers spent much of their time in the run-up to Obama’s election studying past legislative failures and seeing what they could learn from them. Environmentalists, meanwhile, assumed they could build on previous successes and continue attracting Republican support. As a result, the climate movement was utterly unprepared for the GOP’s sharp turn against cap-and-trade in 2008.
It’s a complex analysis worth reading in full, but it’s also 140 pages. So, to discuss some of its main points, I called Skocpol to talk about why the cap-and-trade push failed—and whether climate legislation can ever be viable again. Following is our interview, lightly edited for length and clarity.
Brad Plumer: You spend a lot of time dissecting the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the big collaboration between greens and businesses to push for a cap-and-trade bill that could win support from Republicans. It wasn’t a crazy strategy—cap-and-trade had picked up a fair bit of bipartisan support between 2003 and 2007. So why did it ultimately fail?