Steven Cohen on Symbols and Effective Climate Policy

In an article in The Huffington Post, Steven Cohen, the academic director of the Sustainability Management graduate program, argued for climate policy to "get past symbolic" actions and "embrace the deal-making that produces real world policies, programs and results."

Cohen contrasted the two approaches, saying that although "symbols have meaning and can influence perceptions and values," they should not be confused with real operational changes on the ground."

The professor described some examples of concrete change currently underway, such as the EPA's climate regulations on greenhouse gases, which he defines as "more important than Keystone, divestment, or any other climate initiative now underway in the United States."

He also discussed "federal renewable energy tax credit" as an example of an "important operational climate policy that needs to be defended and expanded." He noted that "a recent alliance of solar activists and the Tea Party in Florida might provide the basis for a coalition in support of solar energy."

Cohen concluded by stating that [the EPA's] Clean Power Plan, the renewable energy tax credit, and "state and local sustainability initiatives may not have the glamor of climate conferences in Paris or the media currency of the fight over the Keystone XL Pipeline, but they are real, operational policies and programs that actually reduce fossil fuel use an speed the transition to a renewable economy."

Read the full article in the Huffington Post, and find out more about our Sustainability Management graduate program.