05/30/2013 - 16:18

George P. Shultz: A Cold Warrior on a warming planet

Economist and statesman George P. Shultz has held four federal Cabinet posts, taught at three universities, and worked as president of a major company. In this interview, he talks about two missions: reducing nuclear weapons and reducing carbon emissions. Shultz defends the Reagan administration’s strategy for nuclear weapons reduction, including Reagan’s unwillingness to abandon the Strategic Defense Initiative, and recalls the president’s motivations for seeking dialogue with the Soviet Union. He also maps out the next big steps toward disarmament: using international meetings on fissile materials as a springboard to create a sense of a global enterprise, and working with individual leaders to reduce regional tensions. He recommends a revenue-neutral carbon tax for combating climate change, arguing that such a tax can level the energy playing field by forcing energy producers to bear a cost for polluting the air. Shultz advocates a two-step approach to change: not just setting out a vision, but also identifying concrete steps for all partners to take.