Thank heaven we’ve had practice

This post at the Environmental Law Prof blog is from a couple of weeks ago, but I appreciate the way it emphasizes the most important lesson of the extremely effective Montreal Protocol to slash our ozone-depleting emissions of chlorofluorocarbons:

The tripe currently being circulated in policy circles about “maintaining flexibility in the face of improving or changing information” is just that — tripe. Regulatory certainty is essential to induce the magnitude of investment necessary to get us out of the carbon trap. Sometimes we just have to say “no,” provide a series of targets and firm deadlines, ease the pain and create flexibility in implementation through well-designed trading programs that first and foremost hit the targets, and use strong enforcement mechanisms to assure compliance. Then, we can actually accomplish something.

The Montreal Protocol worked. It was an excellent dress rehearsal for the big show we’re in now.

Where government regulates, it must have clear objectives and makes rules that are equally clear, steady and predictable so  citizens can make good choice about how to govern themselves. Right now on the environment we have none of those things.

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