As delegates gather in Copenhagen this week to thrash out a global treaty on climate change, the shrill from skeptics intensifies. It’s useful to listen to wisdom from Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman. In a recent interview, I asked Paul the question on many lips: Will climate legislation kill the economy?
“If history is any guide… it’s just not a big deal,” says Krugman, citing the example of acid rain legislation which many people also said would kill the economy. “Dealing with it was cheaper than most estimates had suggested,” he says. “Given the incentives; the private sector found ways to generate a whole lot less acid rain.”
Krugman thinks the same will be true of carbon limits and has already explained his preference for cap and trade in a previous Fresh Dialogues segment.
We also discuss the power of his New York Times column and his influence on the Obama Administration. “We’re speaking across the transom…when I argue with them in my column this is a serious discussion…people in the administration do call me…it’s no longer this sort of Cold War as it was during the Bush years.”
And how does he view his role? “I’m trying to make this progressive moment in American history a success,” says Krugman.
But why not take a position within the administration to be more effective?
“I’m never going to be an insider type. You have to do bureaucratic maneuvering, be pretty good at being polite… reasonably organized…,” says the Pulitzer prize- winning columnist. “I’m none of those things. I can move into a pristine office and within three days it will look like a grenade went off.”
To read this segment transcript, click here.
The interview was recorded in Silicon Valley on November 12, 2009
To read and hear more interview segments
click here for Krugman on Climate and China
click here for Krugman’s on Obama’s job summit.
Click here to hear Tom Friedman answer the question: Will Copenhagen be a waste of time?