Monday, January 18, 2010

Another adapter of the Rabett Simple Plan to Save the World

Non-Alzheimer readers (there must be at least two out of the myriad dozen who read Rabett Run) may recall Eli Rabett's Simple Plan to Save the World and, just to save energy involved in following a link, Eli has put it at the end of this post. This is an idea whose time has come. As evidence thereof, an editorial in the 11 Jan 2010 issue of C&ENews, house organ of the ACS (and yes, Exxon, the other oil companies and the oil and polymer industries all read this and are members). Eli calls your attention to the paragraph he bolded.

For starters, H.R. 2454, the 1,200-page climate-change and energy legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June 2009 that establishes a CO2 cap-and-trade system, should be put out of its misery in favor of a simple carbon tax.

Cap-and-trade is a sop to the coal, petroleum, and other energy-intensive industries; it does nothing but muddle the very simple need to put a price on carbon on which industry can base its capital-spending decisions. A carbon tax accomplishes that goal simply and efficiently.

The Europeans already are coming to recognize the inherent problems of cap-and-trade because they are experiencing them. The European Union and the U.S., together with Japan—already the most energy-efficient developed nation—should jointly enact a significant and escalating carbon tax that would promote real energy efficiencies and cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

But wait, wouldn't that leave China, India, and other nations free to undercut the carbon-tax-inflated prices of goods from the U.S., the EU, and Japan? Not at all. Nations that adopt the carbon tax regimen should impose a carbon tariff equal to the carbon tax on all manufactured goods from countries that do not participate.

The Chinese, in particular, would protest such an action vociferously. Let them. China is not a developing nation; it is an authoritarian, industrialized, mercantile behemoth that is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It is time for the world to stop allowing China to pretend otherwise. If China wants to sell its carbon-tax-free products to developing nations in Africa, Asia, and South America, fine.

Many thoughtful economists have put forth mechanisms whereby a carbon tax would be truly revenue neutral, simultaneously discouraging the use of fossil fuels and stimulating development of alternative energy sources while protecting less affluent consumers. It's time to join forces with other developed nations to put one in place.

The world is moving, as the editor, Rudy Baum points out, not a single Head of State at the Copenhagen conference doubted that climate change was a looming problem, no one signed on to the denialists position. The world has agreed that there is a very serious problem and that there is a solution, just that there is no agreement yet what the solution is. Thus the power of the "Simple Plan".
a. It does the job
b. It can beimplemented by the developed world on itself

The Simple Plan to Save the World:
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.
There was a later codicil
India and China and many other developing countries should reduce their emissions of black carbon by 90% or more in the next decade as part of their work. This will not only significantly reduce warming of the climate, it will make a major contribution to the health of their people. Simple and economical methods of doing this are available.


carrot eater said...

There are basic problems with a carbon tax. Namely, how on earth do you know how high the tax has to be?

At least with cap/trade, you know you'll be below the cap.

The carbon tariff idea is useful as a threat, but it should only be implemented with great care. The last thing we need is a trade war, with protectionist tariffs masquerading as carbon tariffs. After all, it's generally recognised that poor countries shouldn't be treated in the exact same way, so the tariff needs to recognise that. Also, how easily can you certify the carbon footprint of imported goods?

Martin Vermeer said...

b. it can be implemented one country or group of countries at a time.

Carrot eater, the principle should be that the carbon import duty should be equal to the carbon tax on equivalent domestic products. Or for countries that have a lower carbon tax regime, equal to the difference. Rather similar to VAT actually.

carrot eater said...

"the principle should be that the carbon import duty should be equal to the carbon tax on equivalent domestic products."

Martin, I don't think that addresses the problems at all. It is easily possible to manufacture the same good in different ways, of differing energy intensity. You have to look at the exact manufacturing process in that location, and do a life cycle analysis.

Then, to the extent that electricity usage is part of the picture, that itself comes from a mix of sources depending on what the utility is buying onto the grid. If the local grid has 10% hydro and 2% wind, I can on paper claim that my electricity is carbon-neutral.

This can be sorted out through an international framework with international monitoring - something the Chinese finally agreed to at Copenhagen. Working unilaterally, without that monitoring, you have no chance at figuring out what's going on over there.

Your idea of imposing the same carbon price on everybody is against the basic idea that developing countries should get a bit of leeway as they develop.

Marion Delgado said...

carrot eater, the idea that cap and trade is superior is based on the mistaken belief that markets are always optimum. This is a combination of reverence for the hard-earned wisdom of businessmen (which is not absurd, but frankly, businessmen can no longer talk about their ability to pick winners, since, e.g., the Japanese and Korean and many other governments demonstrated they were better than the market at that repeatedly over the last 40 years) and a completely bogus and bankrupt idea from before the era of polling, statistics and computers that no state authority can calculate anything compared to the market. It wasn't even true when people like von Mises or Hayek said it. It's many orders of magnitude false now.

And in practice, when we evaluate the mixed track record of previous cap and trade measures, we get a cherry-picked and skewed analysis, and in most cases, one that pretends there were no regulations involved.

Whatever we do, market means will not be enough - but taxes on carbon are less prone to creating derivative bubbles, and more accurate.

carrot eater said...

Marion: I strongly disagree. Just answer the question: How on earth do you know how high to set the carbon tax?

Cap/trade has a cap. You know your emissions won't exceed it. This is not the case with a tax.

The goal here is to reduce emissions to below some target level, and to do it at the lowest aggregate cost possible.

Adrian Cockcroft said...

Hansen has some good arguments on how to structure this as a carbon fee at the well-head, and how to distribute the proceeds

rumleyfips said...

Elimination of income tax using consumption taxes is fairer, no manipulation to provide breaks for the rich. Everyone would then be able to choose how much tax they want to pay. Want to pay more - buy a Hummer: simple.

One would hope that a carbon tax would immediately lead to a reduction in fossil fuel use. If You take the amount collected in income tax, divide it by the number of litres of fuel ( prorate coal etc) and you get the target. The initial carbon tax may need to be 150% of this target to allow for reduction, but the rates can be reset when results become clear.

John McManus

Unknown said...

The obvious solution, if you still believe the discredited AGW nonsense, is to tax oil and coal, and natural gas at source.

Tax the Saudis, the Russians, the Venezuelans. Take some of the Sheiks ill gotten gains, take some of Putins Nuclear Missile money etc.

Obviously that won't happen because the Commie/Green objective of AGW is to hamstring the Western Capitalist economies. AGW is just a useful justification.

carrot eater said...

"Elimination of income tax using consumption taxes is fairer"

First off, 'fair' is a bit of a distraction. The main goal is to reduce emissions. The secondary goal should be to do it at a minimum cost. Then come other goals.

In general, consumption taxes hit the poor harder than income taxes, just because they spend more of their income (and they don't pay income tax, or do so at low rates).

A carbon tax in particular, I don't have analysis right at hand, but I'm sure it's been done. Life isn't just a decision between a Prius and a Hummer. A poor person will spend a higher % of their income keeping their house warm and their car fueled, even if they don't have a Hummer. Nor do they have the money required to invest in better insulation or a new hybrid car, etc. This is why many proposals (either tax or cap/trade) often have some mechanism to funnel money back to the poor.

"If You take the amount collected in income tax, divide it by the number of litres of fuel ( prorate coal etc) and you get the target."

That has no relation to the required calculation. That's simply a calculation of how much a carbon tax would have to be, if you wanted to replace income tax with a carbon tax.

A carbon tax isn't an end in itself. You need to figure out how high to make it, in order to get the desired emissions cuts.

Martin Vermeer said...

Carrot eater: hammer-nail syndrome alert :-)

In both cases, C&T and tax, you need insight into the externality cost as a function of emissions volume: when setting a cap, you have to know both what costs it causes and what damage it prevents, to find the optimum.

> The goal here is to reduce emissions
> to below some target level, and to do
> it at the lowest aggregate cost
> possible.

No, that's not the goal. It's not even optimal. The proper goal is to find the emissions level that minimizes total cost, i.e., the algebraic sum of aggregate costs and externalities.

Yes, with C&T you know the emissions volume, but the market players won't know the price of an emission permit. With tax, the reverse. Not unimportant.

carrot eater said...


OK, I'll allow that the global objective function to be minimised is the sum of the cost of reducing emissions, and the cost of damage done by the remaining emissions. Meaning, if reducing emissions was ungodly expensive in comparison to the externalities, you would have to suck it up and just accept the global warming, as that's the cheaper way to go.

But the decision to go cap/trade or tax is usually done downstream of that. I've never heard anybody say, "well, if we use cap/trade, our emissions target should be X, but if we use tax, our emissions target would be something different." Rather, the emissions targets are the same, regardless of how you go about it. So in practicality, the goal reverts to what I stated.

Cap/trade makes sure you hit the targets, and pretty much by definition, the carbon price is no higher than it has to be to reach those targets.

A carbon tax could be set too low to have enough impact, or it could be set too high and unnecessarily damage the economy. Sure, you could use a trial-and-error approach, but then you might as well have just used cap/trade.

Additionally, I'd argue that a tax does not recognise that some emissions cuts are cheaper to realise than others.

Hank Roberts said...

The proper goal is to find the
cost level that reduces the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

This can be done by business as usual, in which case we grossly overshoot, and as a result all our externalized costs are charged to the grandchildren and the ecology.

The Fermi Paradox indicates this is the standard approach.

The silence of the universe arounds us suggests this is approach is non-optimal.

Anonymous said...

Little Mouses like simplicity. Carbon tax, tarrifs and reduced other taxes would seem to be the simplest way of introducing a price signal on carbon use.

I would suggest $20 per ton a usefull place to start. Charged at well head, mine head or dock would probably be the simplest way of doing it (Hansen's plan).

Cap and trade is not simple, but has been effective before. Although it is not my favorite mechanism, Little Mouses are pragmatic and will accept whatever does the job.

Little Mouse

David B. Benson said...

Unless the tax is levied on the fossil fuel producer, I don't see this as simple at all.

And by the way, it seems that about US$40 per (short) ton of carbon is the least amount to significantly alter existing practices.

Flavius Collium said...

I have it from the corps (not denialist evil but it seems genuine) that they think cap and trade is nicer. Think about multinationals for example, it gets into a headache. Also trade wars are really really really bad.

Anonymous said...

Will a tax on bad science create good science?

Jeepers, Eli, think this thru.

EliRabett said...

The usual suggestion is to reduce social security taxes rather than income taxes, as the former are generally paid by the middle/working class and the bulk of the later by the well to do.

Otherwise, have at it.

Douglas Watts said...

"a. It does the job
b. It can be implemented by the developed world on itself."


I think B is the most critical. Taxes incentivize and de-incentivize purchase decisions. And they focus on the end user. It's amazing what something as simple as a bottle bill with a nickel deposit does to clean up litter and promote recycling.

Douglas Watts said...

A problem with cap and trade, as I see, is that the transaction is fairly invisible to the end user. When end users have a functional, meaningful way of exercising their "vote" via their spending decisions, change would occur much more quickly. The worse case scenario is when, say, my local power provider spends gobs of my $$$ to thwart the entire goal of a cap and trade system. While the system might not intend this outcome, its design tends to incentivize it. This has been a flaw in the design of the U.S. Clean Air Act since it was written.

carrot eater said...

Well, we've got votes for $20 and $40. That's a pretty wide range to pick from. The question of where to set the price is a very real one.

What place do offsets have in a carbon-tax regime? If an investment of $5 reduces emissions by 1 ton in some poor country someplace, I think that's very worth doing. If offsets aren't in the picture, that doesn't happen.

Douglas Watts said...

Carrot Eater,

I take Eli's proposition to be that US/EU can and should take unilateral action, at home, and for the moment put on the shelf extracting binding agreements from all other countries. At least that's how I interpret it. The rough analogy I would offer is not smoking in bars; or laws allowing gay marriage. If every state and municipality and country had to extract a binding agreement by all other entities before enacting such provisions, they would never happen. It's also about the principle of leadership and responsibility. The U.S. can lead or make excuses for doing nothing by citing to laggards, which becomes a race to the bottom.

The U.S. Clean Air Act, by now defining CO2 as a pollutant, gives the Obama administration a legal obligation to do something here regardless of what other countries do.

William T said...

Carrot Eater - here's a couple of other thoughts for you to chew on:

1) we actually don't know precisely what the cap should be, so it's pretty arbitrary whether we end up setting a (politically-compromised) cap or a (politically-compromised) fee/tax. Both can (and should) be adjusted in future years to effect the required changes in behaviour.

2) the implementation of cap&trade legislation, after all the hand-outs and special deals are concluded, becomes similar to a tax anyway given that the govt. takes on many of the costs of the 'freebie' permits. Just look at the NZ example for a cap&trade legislation gone wrong.

So you have a hugely complex mechanism that doesn't have the purity of the 'cap' that you might wish for.

3) Business (real business that makes things that is, not financial/trading businesses) is going to be a lot easier with a predictable price on carbon rather than an erratic and ever-changing price. This is especially true for large investments in alternative energy. If I can't be sure what the carbon price in 5 years is going to be (will it be really high or will the bottom have fallen out of the market?) then I'm going to be wary of investing in something that depends on a good carbon price.

4) Paying someone to sin less so that I can sin more might be nice in theory (and for financial traders) but in practice it is the slippery slope to perdition...

Marion Delgado said...

carrot eater:

to your strongest objection i would have answered as the others did, and I anticipated they would.

These are deep waters, though. We've moved past the easy part - the science, is all.

rumleyfips said...

I live a few minutes away from ( as described in the press) the richest man in Nova Scotia. He pays more income tax than me.
Carrot eater:

I am sure, however, that he consumes more than I do. He has more cars than I do and they are bigger. His house is bigger and less efficient than mine. His other house in Hawaii requires plane flights: even the rich can't walk on water. I could probably go on. The point is that consumption rises with wealth. Please include all the tax dodging practiced by our betters. Even the big slap the unseen hand of Adam Smith delivered to AIG has only made the rick ricker ( thanks junior).

A couple of years ago, 2 government levels gave $84m in loans and grants ( to him not me.) I am sure lawyers and accountants are busy as we speak ensuring tax liability is minimized. Me, not so much, there are no loopholes for us baby bunnies.

Over the past few years, my fossel fuel usage has been cut by 2/3. Would I swap income tax for a consumption tax? Of course. Would TRMINS? Let me get back to you when I have talked to the accountants.

John McManus

carrot eater said...

Let's see here.

William T:

Yes, the level of the cap is necessarily arbitrary. I'll argue it will remain arbitrary into the future. But even the people advocating a tax still have some target in mind. But they don't have a mechanism guaranteed to get them there.

Yes, political constraints makes implementation of either method an absolute mess. But the decision of auctioning off vs giving away permits doesn't change where the cap is. There's still a cap. The cap itself is only undermined by setting it too high by issuing too many permits, or by exempting too many industries from having to participate.

I will accept the criticism that a floating carbon price is bad for the investment horizon. That is a good point. Though underlying energy prices are already erratic and volatile, so volatility isn't an issue introduced by cap/trade; it's an already existing issue that cap/trade does not address.

And for those thinking we can just tinker with the carbon tax until we get the desired reductions: That is itself eliminating the advantage of predictability that the carbon tax is supposed to have.

"Paying someone to sin less so that I can sin more might be nice in theory"

Sin is a bad choice of words. End of the day, we want to reduce emissions. CO2 is well mixed; the Earth doesn't care who makes the cuts. If I want one more unit of reduction, it makes perfect sense to pay $5 to do it in India, instead of paying $40 to do it in the US, IF that reduction in India wouldn't have happened otherwise.

Douglas Watts:
I think those are poor analogies, and you also miss the basic point that Eli's idea is unilateral in implementation, but multilateral in effect due to the tariffs.

If NY bans smoking in bars, then people in NY will immediately benefit. What North Carolina does in this respect is totally irrelevant to the results in NY. At most, some bars on the border between NY and some smoking state will see more/less business from smokers/non-smokers, but this is a minor consideration.

Greenhouse gases are entirely different. If, say, the EU leads and nobody else follows, then the enterprise is pointless as the reductions made by the EU alone are not enough to make enough difference to the global problem. To make it worse, the EU would have disadvantaged some of its locally based industries, without getting the desired global effect. So we can be noble and speak of leadership, but it comes to naught if you don't get enough of the rest of the world to follow.

But Eli's case isn't like that; by putting on the tariff on imports, he's forcing China into the game to some extent. But I have expressed my reservations on that idea.

rumleyfips: Careful. I'm not talking about absolute consumption, but consumption relative to income. A poor person living paycheck to paycheck will consume nearly 100% of income, and some of that consumption has a carbon footprint. A rich person may consume more in absolute terms, but will consume a lower % of income.

William T said...

Carrot Eater, allow me to expand on these points. I actually used to favour a cap&trade until recently, but have realised that it won't work in practice. It may be the most efficient allocation method in theory, however such theory relies on the actions of 'ideal' economically-motivated agents acting in a transparent and 'fair' market with enforcable rules. As you say, CO2 emissions are globally fungible so this marketplace has to be global. Two questions:
1. Can you be sure (really sure, with practical legal redress available) that your payment of $5 to reduce emissions in India is actually equivalent to reducing the emissions in the US? Especially since India has explicitly said that they're not prepared to accept any total cap.
2. Who is going to enforce the various national caps? No country (least of all the US, China, or India) is going to agree to be policed by any international carbon-capping agency with any kind of clout. If countries are going to be 'fined' for breaking their caps, who is going to collect the money? For that matter, which politician is going to agree to pay that 'fine'? And who is then going to reduce their emissions to compensate?

As for my analogy to sin, I was quite deliberate - the world is not 'ideal' and selling offsets ends up being a leakage in national caps and ultimately the global cap in a similar way that the selling of 'indulgences' to cancel out sins became such a farce for the church.

In fact, in terms of individual incentives it is even worse - if I choose to be extra 'good' and voluntarily reduce my carbon emissions, there is no benefit to the environment because my effort has the perverse effect that the overall cap is reached more easily and so the carbon price reduces (i.e. my efforts allow 'sinful' emitters to pay less for their emissions).

In any case, there is no reason why arbitrage cannot be used in the case of a 'carbon tax'. Investment will flow to where the opportunity to reduce the carbon tax is most profitable. And any carbon tax will have to have some kind of rebate mechanism to allow CCS operations.

Anonymous said...

Having at it.

Pulling a weed in the garden does not equal a tomato plant.

rumleyfips said...

Carrot eater:

Exactly. More is more. People with money spend more and a consumption tax would collect more from them. Collecting more at this level would allow collecting less at lower levels. A carbon tax would collect more from the jet set than from the bicycle set.

John McManus

carrot eater said...


Perhaps we're talking past each other. The poor already don't pay any income tax. In fact, a large fraction of households do not pay income tax. So switching to a consumption tax would increase their tax burden, unless you funneled some money back to them somehow (a 'prebate' or rebate). Or, unless you used consumption taxes to whack the payroll tax, instead of income tax.

William T, I'll respond to your thoughts later.

Douglas Watts said...

Carrot Eater --

You have an unsupported implied conclusion here:

Greenhouse gases are entirely different. If, say, the EU leads and nobody else follows, then the enterprise is pointless as the reductions made by the EU alone are not enough to make enough difference to the global problem.

First, if the EU leads, that will create a large reduction in GHG.

Second, if the EU leads, it will create a large political negotiating level for the EU to get others to follow along. More important, if the EU does not lead, it will have no moral high ground and no leverage, thus forcing the entire biscuit to hinge on some worldwide agreement. In even a basic probability analysis, if I drop my knife it is more likely you will drop yours compared to me refusing to drop it.

You are also using a form of Zeno's Paradox.

Douglas Watts said...

In fact, in terms of individual incentives it is even worse - if I choose to be extra 'good' and voluntarily reduce my carbon emissions, there is no benefit to the environment because my effort has the perverse effect that the overall cap is reached more easily and so the carbon price reduces (i.e. my efforts allow 'sinful' emitters to pay less for their emissions).

This is a real problem for cap and trade schemes for acid rain precursors and ground level ozone pollution (GLOP), since localized areas can still get walloped if you are downwind of a giant emitter or smokestack. With CO2 it is different, since the ultimate adverse effect is literally global.

Unless the "cap" is set very low, like exactly where we want it to stay to prevent further temp. increase and attenuate effects already in the pipeline, the perverse effects Wm. T. mentions become a real problem in that they dissuade further investment in reduction and create a new status quo that may be well above where we really need to be.

Hank Roberts said...
"In this month's Harpers Magazine, Mark Schapiro spent some time trying to figure out how you verify those carbon credits. ...
Ryssdal: OK, so here is what has always stumped me about a possible cap-and-trade market mechanism. It's not like you're buying and selling a pound of pork bellies here. You have this amorphous thing, this unit of carbon, it's a unit of air, as your piece talks about it. And you explain in your piece that the United Nations has set up a verification mechanism. Tell us about that.

SCHAPIRO: Yeah, my piece explores who are the people that are doing these measurements. And how reliable are these measurements? They are like the carbon accountants, they are the ratings agencies that we saw in Wall Street that assess the value of publicly-traded companies. Well, the same kind of process occurs with carbon. And what's happened, for example, is two of the biggest of those ratings agencies were actually suspended by the United Nations because of what the United Nations determined was inadequate oversight of the audits that they had conducted and inadequate technical skill levels of the people who work for them.

Ryssdal: Where does this leave us then? With the United States possibly getting into this market, and yet the underlying premise of measuring the carbon credits not being entirely reliable. I mean what happens next? I mean, this was the thing that was going to save the planet, right?

SCHAPIRO: This was the thing that was going to save the planet. The cap-and-trade system was largely designed by the United States as a way to detour around this idea of a carbon tax. So now the rest of the world was left to execute this plan, of course, when the United States left Kyoto in 2001. Now we're about to jump in. Where this leaves us is a very serious debate over how you're going to oversee this market. For example, is it going to be the Securities Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the people who regulate utilities? And how much regulation is there going to be to ensure that the emissions that are promised are actually delivered?..."

Hank Roberts said...

All three companies, as it happens, had aggressively lobbied the Clinton administration against signing the 1997 Kyoto climate accord and stayed mum when President Bush withdrew from it. But they hedged their bets, figuring that the Brazilian forests could be turned into offsets to sell in places (like Europe) where Kyoto's emission limits did apply, or could be held in reserve in case the US ever established its own limits.

By the time the companies were ready to begin preparing their credits for sale, however, the UN had refused to allow "avoided deforestation" projects—those that buy forestland and then promise not to cut the trees—as an offset for industries seeking to buy their way out of emission limits. Credits generated from projects like Guaraqueçaba were excluded from the international carbon market launched by Kyoto, a market that now accounts for more than $126 billion in offset transactions. The offsets could be sold, however, in the United States, where the $700 million domestic carbon offset market is unregulated (and where prices are generally half those of Kyoto-regulated offsets)....

Hank Roberts said...

A bit more from that Mother Jones page:

"... The US-based Nature Conservancy, in a partnership with SPVS, secured $18 million from General Motors, AEP and Chevron to buy the land and conserve it. Though people lived on the land before this, they did not own it. These 50,000 acres were bought for more than today's worth of the carbon credits for a few reasons. First, Nature Conservancy bought the land, not just the carbon credits it contained. Second, the partnership was banking on hopes that the worth of carbon credits will shoot through the roof if cap and trade passes and these transactions become more common...."

Hank Roberts said...


Update: Carbon Watch | January 12, 2010

"... The EU estimates that one person flying from London to New York and back generates roughly the same level of emissions as the average European does by heating their home for a year.

En route to Copenhagen, we wrote about the eye-opening experience of having an Air France pilot announcing our flight's carbon footprint. Now it turns out that announcement may have been a portent of much tension to come: The US airline industry has adamantly opposed establishing emission limits on aviation in this country, and is now attempting to staunch the growing gap between the US and Europe's approach to greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, Anglo-American divisions in the airline industry are emerging: British Airways has stated it could voluntarily reduce its emissions to half of 2005 levels over the next decade; and Virgin's Chairman, Richard Branson, has stated he is willing to pay a carbon tax on his aviation business, and has steered some $3 billion in company funds ..."

Douglas Watts said...

Pulling a weed in the garden does not equal a tomato plant.

Unless I'm reading it wrong, there's an odd "we have to re-invent the wheel" aspect to this statement.

We don't. Once you consider CO2 a pollutant like SO2 you regulate it like it is a pollutant, which it is. The U.S. Clean Air Act is a legal structure designed to regulate and control pollutants.

Anonymous said...

One organisms pollutant is another organisms food group. I suggest we tax temperature changes, using the MWP as the base year. Exceed the base year temperature, every one's taxes go up by x amount. If the temperature declines, the taxes go down by x amount. Simple. After all, it's global temperature that's the issue, isn't it, and not just a scam to pad the payroll?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - Either you have simply not thought this through (tax the temperature...) or you're simply trolling. My guess is the latter. If you actually are sincere then stop and think about what effect a universal tax could possibly have on temperature. Nothing. It would be a scam to pad the payroll.

If you'd actually read the article and discussion above you'd have seen that the 'carbon tax' (a) makes it more expensive to emit CO2 so penalises those who choose to emit more; and (b) everyone is proposing that it DOESN'T increase taxes, but is either refunded equally (eg Hansen) or used to reduce payroll / other taxes (eg Eli Rabett).

Anoymouse 2