Monday, August 11, 2008

What do the Danes and the Chinese have in common?

If all you are doing is following the Olympics, you might think it is only badminton or table tennis. However, the real answer is wind. In my previous post, I cited the NY Times editorial call for a sane energy policy. I also mentioned an OpEd by Thomas Friedman. It deserves a separate reference.

Friedman is always looking at the world as though you can tell the future by watching the way international commerce work. I don't want to debated that. However, in his OpEd Sunday, he compares the very practical Danish energy policy with that of the US. There are two very clear points of difference.

First, they view high gasoline prices as a good thing...
“I have observed that in all other countries, including in America, people are complaining about how prices of [gasoline] are going up,” Denmark’s prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told me. “The cure is not to reduce the price, but, on the contrary, to raise it even higher to break our addiction to oil. We are going to introduce a new tax reform in the direction of even higher taxation on energy and the revenue generated on that will be used to cut taxes on personal income — so we will improve incentives to work and improve incentives to save energy and develop renewable energy."

The second is that America, lacking political leadership, is asleep at the switch while other countries are making substantial progress in solving our real problems, not teasing votes from commuters with promised that won't be fulfilled. Here is how Friedman cites one interviewee.
Ditlev Engel, the president of Vestas — Denmark’s and the world’s biggest wind turbine company — told me that he simply can’t understand how the U.S. Congress could have just failed to extend the production tax credits for wind development in America.
> Why should you care?
> “We’ve had 35 new competitors coming out of China in the last 18 months,” said Engel, “and not one out of the U.S.”
Friedman does not mince word about politicianss.
Unlike America, Denmark, which was so badly hammered by the 1973 Arab oil embargo that it banned all Sunday driving for a while, responded to that crisis in such a sustained, focused and systematic way that today it is energy independent. (And it didn’t happen by Danish politicians making their people stupid by telling them the solution was simply more offshore drilling.)

I guess I am not the only one who thinks the Republican magic formula is stupid.

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