Expert Voices

California cap-and-trade shows the value of diverse climate solutions

US Governor of California, Jerry Brown speaks at the launch event at the US climate action center on November 11, 2017 during the COP23 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Governor of California Jerry Brown speaks during the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Germany on November 11, 2017. Photo: Patrik Stollarz/AFP via Getty Images

Last month, Governor Jerry Brown flew to Toronto to bolster support for the 2017 California–Canada cap-and-trade alliance. At home, though, Brown has faced criticism for pursuing market-based policies to reduce fossil-fuel consumption, rather than calling for a state-wide freeze on new drilling.

Why it matters: The California debate illustrates a larger conflict within the environmental movement: Many insist upon the most aggressive climate change policies, but for both electoral and economic reasons, climate change can't be addressed solely by government fiat. To drive change at scale, the government must also engage market forces to create better and cheaper alternative energy sources, cars, homes, buildings and transportation systems.