While the SF Giants captured the World Series (what's in a name...the US Series would be more accurate), the American people had a chance to ventilate their anger. Out with the elitist Democrats, in with the all-American Republicans. Being born and raised in Holland, this is hard to digest. Especially if the main message mostly consists of screaming lies, as nicely pointed out in this NY Times Op-Ed piece. But, there was other news from the elections: Californians turned to Jerry Brown (again) and voted against legalisation of marijuana. There's some hypocrisy to the latter: soft-drug use is already higher in the US than it is in Holland (where marijuana was legalized in the '70s) and it's mostly available to the public, by getting a "medical marijuana passport." (Read this RAND working paper for more stats.)
Californians also voted for climate-change legislation (that is, they voted against anti-climate change legislation that would require the unemployment to be below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters before any regulation would come into place). Will California be able to lead to US in their quest to become the "greentech leader?" I recently presented at an Energy Roundtable at the Dutch Consulate, and it seems like market-based initiatives, mainly aimed at changing private behavior, are taking off rapidly indeed (there are good papers showing that the initiatives of OPower and some local utilities in California are quite successful in reducing energy consumption). Or at least, faster in California than in Europe, which still relies on good-old government programs to reduce energy consumption. Most notable is the now well-known "energy label."My colleague Dirk Brounen and I wrote an interesting paper on market adoption and valuation of the label - a glossy version was launched for an audience of Brussels policy makers last week. They seemed to like the message that the label is effective in conveying the message of residential energy efficiency and the cost of inefficiency to consumers. In the meantime, the UK has decided to simply impose a carbon tax on building owners -- a great way to increase tax revenues for the new government, and improve the return on clean energy and clean tech at the same time.
I'm currently on my way to Buenos Aires (home to our crown princess, Maxima), after saving substantial carbon emissions this week by giving a talk in Sydney...via Skype. Apparently, the technology worked out quite oke (and well, Bob Reich was in the Oprah Show via Skype not too long ago. Note: have you seen this hilarous piece of Reich with Conan O'Brien?) I look forward to exploring South America and to finding out more about their climate change concerns. Besides eating bife de chorizo and drinking Malbec, I'll be working on new papers, some related to the economics of green building (which is nicely reviewed in this article.)