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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.

Regionally banning a globally traded product like fossil fuel is not good political strategy or economics: Consumers would simply buy fuel from outside the state, effectively penalizing California businesses without reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Markets can often guide climate-friendly solutions, especially when business incentives align with environmental ones. For example, coal-generated electricity is declining precipitously in the U.S. — not because of a ban, but because it’s become more expensive than other energy sources. Likewise, the city of Shenzhen, China, recently converted all of its 16,000 buses to electric power, which reduces both air pollution and operating costs.

The bottom line: Using carbon cap-and-trade revenue to support green technology innovation and pilots and removing legal and structural barriers to clean-technology adoption are both strong pro-climate alternatives to fossil fuel bans. Jurisdictions that instate such policies would be rewarded with jobs and economic development as well.

Ron Dizy is managing director of the Advanced Energy Centre at MaRS.

Go deeper

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
4 hours ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.