Science & Technology

Surprise: Sociologists can promote climate policy

In early December, Jane Fregal was asked for an “optimal policy mix” to address climate change.

Flegal was then the Program Officer of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, from which he was able to direct funding to many of America’s prominent climate researchers, nonprofits, and advocates.

She was sitting on this day interview A podcast hosted by Columbia University professor Jason Bordoff, who served as climate adviser to former President Obama.

Bordoff knows whether Flegal prefers a traditional policy mix centered on carbon pricing, EPA regulation, and government-funded research, or a new approach that prefers to tailor investment and standards to specific industries. I wanted to.

“I’m personally a little tired of both the academic work that takes us at the time of this entry, such as how to design the optimal mix, and the development of practical policies,” Flegal said. I answered. “We now have enough empirical experience to suggest that it is often not really relevant to the political world.”

Then she expanded.

“By the way, I’m not just throwing away carbon prices here. I think this actually applies to many domains. And you said something really important. It’s a trend. Yes, this means that in climate advocacy, technology and politics tend to conflict with each other.

“You are either a techno optimist on climate issues, or you think we have to change politics,” she continued. “And I think the whole framing is insane because the framing is so deeply interrelated.”

Flegal was one of the new waves of climate experts joining the Biden administration this week. She is the Senior Director of Industrial Emissions of the White House Environmental Quality Council.

Her appointment represents a new approach to climate policy under President Biden. Where past presidents turned to economists and officials with a background in the energy industry, Flegal is a scholar of science, technology and society. As is well known, STS scholars are studying how society shapes science.

Flegal is one of a few new appointees with similar backgrounds, including Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director of Energy Justice, Ministry of Energy, and Alondra Nelson, Deputy Director of Science and Society, Office of Science and Technology Policy, White House.

“I was really impressed with that fact [Biden] Shobita Parthasarathy, director of the University of Michigan’s Science and Technology Public Policy Program and a long-time Flegal, said:

“When he is thinking about seemingly technical questions, he reaches out to a completely different kind of people, kinds of professionals who have a subtle understanding of the world of society. Asked only by technical professionals, Past questions answered. “

Traditionally, policymakers have tackled climate change challenges by seeking optimal technical and economic solutions, according to Pulsa Sarasi. In contrast, STS scholars, with the support of the general public, ask what kind of technical solution is needed to achieve the goals of society.

She said this approach has the advantage of maximizing technical benefits and reducing political opposition.

Associates described Flegal as a non-ideological researcher. That position is motivated by empirical evidence. She wrote a dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley on solar geoengineering, a controversial theory of cooling the Earth to limit the effects of climate change.

Her treatise argues that it is not a discussion of solar geoengineering, but rather that it needs to be understood.

In interviews and Twitter, she advocated carbon recovery and nuclear power. This is usually a position related to climate engineers like Bill Gates. However, much of her work has focused on how to incorporate equity concerns into climate policy and is more often associated with the progressive supporters of the Green New Deal, Associates said.

“She focuses on climate change, but she’s not tied to the theory of any particular technology or social organization to make it happen,” says David, Harvard University, who writes extensively on solar geoengineering.・ Professor Keith said.

“She is one of the few people I admire most for advice on how to expand solar geo research,” he said. “I think she is an intellectually sharp, good communicator and a great employer for the administration.”

Dan Sarewitz, a science and social professor at Arizona State University and one of Sarewitz’s treatise advisors, said Sarewitz’s position often does not comply with the ideological Lithomas exams conducted by the media and the scientific community. , States that it is difficult to classify.

“I think it’s a kind of’award-watching’, a practical approach that demands clarity of what you’re trying to achieve and what the best tools are,” he said. .. “This tells us something about the Biden administration. They are not driven by ideology. They will be driven by a problem-solving stance.”

Flegal is from New Hampshire. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College and spent three years at the Bipartisan Policy Center as a senior policy analyst before heading to the University of California, Berkeley. Since graduating from graduate school, she has worked for the Bernard and Anspitzer Charitable Trust and the Hewlett Foundation. She is an adjunct professor at Arizona State University.

In a statement, a CEQ spokeswoman said Flegal developed “a fair and equitable policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drive technological progress and help create jobs in the manufacturing and industrial sectors.” Said that it was a mission.

Her interview with Bordov shows how she works. She argued that government investment in clean energy does more than reduce emissions and technology costs.

“Reducing the cost of climate change measures reduces the limits of political will needed to develop more ambitious climate policies. So much political will to overcome cost barriers No need, “says Flegal.

“And the second thing that really matters is that as we subsidize and incentive clean energy alternatives, we grow a coalition of parties that will benefit from more ambitious climate policies and climate change. It is to potentially blunt the opposition to the measures at the same time. “

Her theory will now be challenged.

Reprinted from E & E News With permission from POLITICO and LLC. Copyright 2021. E & E News provides essential news for energy and environmental professionals.

Surprise: Sociologists can promote climate policy Surprise: Sociologists can promote climate policy

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