Both major presidential candidates have endorsed CO2 abatement targets for the US, with Obama advocating for the most stringent — the "20 by 50" target by which the US would reduce CO2 emissions by 80% in the next 40 years.
Given that they support such targets, the candidates’ public positions on gasoline prices should be something like this:
Yeah, I know that $4 gas is painful. But do you know what? Gas prices are going to have to go a LOT higher for us to achieve the CO2 abatement targets I am proposing, so suck it up. Just to give you a sense of scale, the Europeans pay nearly twice as much as we do for gas, and even at those levels, they are orders of magnitude short of the CO2 abatement I have committed us to achieve. Since late 2006, gas prices in this country have doubled, and demand has fallen by perhaps 5%. That will probably improve over time as people buy new cars and change behaviors, but it may well require gasoline prices north of $20 a gallon before we meet the CO2 goal I have adopted. So get ready.
You have heard Obama and McCain say this? Yeah, neither have I. At least Obama was consistent enough not to adopt McCain’s gas tax holiday idea. But it’s time for some honesty here, not that I really expect it.
We need to start being a lot clearer about the real costs of CO2 abatement and stop this mindless "precautionary principle" jargon that presupposes that there are no costs to CO2 abatement. When proponents of the precautionary principle say "Well, CO2 abatement is like insurance — you buy insurance on your house, don’t you," I answer, "Not if the insurance costs more than the cost to replace the house, I don’t."