The DispatchThe Dispatch

Europe’s climate agenda is a cautionary tale for the U.S.

By Dalibor Rohac

14 Aug 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. The EU's climate agenda is a policy trilemma. Europeans want stringent environmental standards, strategic autonomy, and rising economic prosperity, but all three cannot be pursued simultaneously. The Dispatch's Dalibor Rohac argues that this should serve as a warning to the US, where similar policies are being considered.

Should the United States be more like Europe—greener and with a more generous social safety net? For most on America’s left, the answer is a no-brainer. But recent developments remind us that the European model comes with a hefty price tag.

Europeans seem to want to have it all: stringent environmental and regulatory standards to drive decarbonization; “strategic autonomy,” especially from powers such as Russia or China; and rising levels of economic prosperity. These goals form a policy trilemma. Europeans can pick two—or a limited combination of the three—but they cannot pursue all three at once. And that should be a warning to Americans.

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