Kamala Harris was impressive. Making a lot of references to her record in California -- which has great environmental policies and has tackled climate and other environmental issues more effectively than any other state -- Harris was very self-assured. Her California record is a big plus - though a lot of distinctive California policies predate her.
But she waffled on some issues. Nuclear was one. Should we replace nuclear power stations at the ends of their lives by more of the same, or by renewables?
This is a complex question and Senator Harris didn’t seem to have thought it through. She talked mainly about the disposal of nuclear waste and Yucca Mountain – a big issue but not central to the choice.
And she said she’d leave it to the states. But we need action at the federal level if we are to develop and implement new nuclear technologies. She would ban fracking and the production of oil and gas on federal lands – I agree, but this is controversial and perhaps not necessary. If we can reduce the use of oil and gas by promoting new technologies, this will automatically reduce demand for oil and gas and so its production.
Overall she seemed very emphatic about the importance of climate.
Geoffrey Heal, the Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise and a Chazen Senior Scholar at Columbia Business School, is the author of "Endangered Economies -- How the Neglect of Nature Threatens Our Prosperity."