At the same time, the price of fossil fuels must be raised to account for their environmental damage. And existing subsidies for fossil energy should be eliminated. Some fossil-energy companies are shifting to renewables, but on the whole, the coal, natural gas and oil industries will not give up the government largesse meekly, so politicians will have to resist intense lobbying from them.
Now that the world has a plan to transform the global energy system economically, leaders in Copenhagen can commit to cutting emissions without diminishing their citizens’ standard of living. The missing piece is leadership, which the U.S. can provide if Congress acts definitively.
Note: This article was originally printed with the title, "Keys to Copenhagen."