The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process requires cooperation by all parties. While the Bush administration was not able to derail the process at Bali, it was only stopped when the EU said it would not participate in next months planned Hawaii climate charade if there were no progress at Bali. The weakened worldwide position of the US, economically, politically and militarily diminishes the ability of any US government to get its way, but rapid progress may require another path.
The immediate problem is how to take global action that does not require global agreement, but only agreement among a few important and willing actors, which rewards early adapters and does not allow the unwilling to block action. The mechanism needs to be immune to off shoring, and be neutral between domestic and foreign producers. Eli believes that carbon trading proposals are aimed in the wrong direction. Rabett's Simple Plan for Saving the World has the potential of meeting these requirements. It differs from any of the other proposals that I have seen in those ways.
UPDATES: in italic Eli slept well and the good eco faries visited his dreams also Bellette (see comments)
Nations wishing to make major progress on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions should introduce emission taxes on all products. These taxes should be levied on imports as well as domestic goods at the point of sale, and should displace other taxes, such as VAT, sales taxes, and payroll (e.g. social security, health care) in such a way that tax revenues are constant, and distributed equitably.
These should be introduced as an Emissions Added Levy (avoiding the bad jokes). EAL would be imposed on sale for emissions added in the preceding step and inherent to the consumption of the product, as would be the case for heating oil and gasoline. Manufacturers would pay the EAL on electricity they bought, and incorporate this and the levy on emissions they created into the price of the product they sell.
Imports from countries that do not have an EAL would have the full EAL imposed at the time of import. The base rate would be generic EALs based on worst previous practices in the countries that do have EALs, which would be reduced on presenting proof that the actual emissions were lower.
All countries with EAL systems would reserve a portion (say 5%) for assisting developing countries with adaptations (why not use acclimations?) and mitigating programs.
By basing the levy on emissions rather than carbon all greenhouse gases stand on a common level, sequestration is strongly encouraged as well as such simple things as capturing methane from oil wells and garbage dumps (that gets built into the cost of disposal). The multipliers would come from CO2 equivalents on a 10 year basis.
The process can be effective without across the board agreement which means the ability of countries such as the US to bargain the process down is decreased. Further, early adopters will control the process and establish the base rates in concert. Imagine a world wide EAL system controlled by the early adapters
market denominated in yen or euro. The effect will advantage them their currencies in the same was as the oil market being denominated in $ has benefitted the dollar.
If large enough chunks of the world economy, for example, the EU and Japan adopt this, manufacturers world wide have to follow across the board no matter where they are. There are not going to be separate lines to produce whatever for North America and Europe in China. And yes, as in all things there would be some gaming of the system. It’s the price you pay for lawyers and economists.See, told you it was simple.