The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success by Mark Jaccard [9/10]

If you insist on sticking to one genre of reading, please, I entreat, make it the flood of important writings on climate change. I read the doomsayers, the exhorters, the science/history heroes, the activists, but it’s rare to find someone non-academic able to talk about policy. Mark Jaccard, economist and environmentalist both, an academic but with longstanding roots in policy formulation advice, is one such. And with “The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths that Hinder Progress,” he has fashioned a truly essential book for the 2020s. Shaping his honed, practical viewpoint, he dissects ten “myths,” delusions he believes are held by both the deniers and the activists. A few of them are priceless, and helped to shift my views, such as: “all countries will agree on climate fairness”; “we must price carbon emissions” (in this and other chapters he provides one of the most lucid explanations of a carbon tax or equivalent mechanism that I have seen); “peak oil will get us first anyway”; “energy efficiency is profitable” (a topic still undecided in my mind); and “renewables have won” (oh, I know they haven’t). Particularly pernicious is the view that “we must change our behavior,” a stalling tactic that diverts responsibility onto the largely powerless individual. A final chapter is a call to organized political action, focusing on finding the political leaders of the future, and here Jaccard offers, slightly tongue in cheek but actually deadly serious, a flowchart for judging the climate action credentials of all our politicians. “The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success” is superbly written and life-changing and mandatory. Hear that: mandatory.

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