We Need to Put a Price on Carbon

Just a few months from now, world leaders will meet in Paris to try and put together a plan to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s a big occasion, and given the state of the planet these days, a deal is absolutely necessary.

At the rate we’re going, the earth’s atmosphere is set rise 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, double what scientists say is an “acceptable” level of warming.

And here’s the thing, even that 2 degree Celsius benchmark of “acceptable warming” might be not be enough to hold off environmental devastation on a scale we haven’t seen in millennia.

According to former NASA scientist James Hansen, 2 degrees Celsius is a recipe for disaster, no matter what public officials say.

He explained why in a recent interview with Australian radio.

Hansen now says we have to limit ourselves to 1 degree Celsius warming - a number we’re already dangerously close to reaching.

So a lot is at stake at this year’s climate talks, which makes the fact there won’t be any discussion of carbon pricing all the more frustrating.

In fact, earlier this week, Christina Figueres, the head of the UN body in charge of the Paris talks, explicitly ruled out that possibility saying that it just wasn’t possible at this moment in time.

Now, that may or may not be true, but in terms of pure policy, there’s no question that putting a price on carbon is the single best way to clamp down on greenhouse gas pollution and stop global warming once and for all.

Right now, the fossil fuel industry is the only industry in the world that doesn’t have to pay to clean up its own waste.

Instead, these guys pass the costs of that waste (carbon pollution) on to the rest of us in the form of what economists call "negative externalities.”

Some examples of “negative externalities” include things like the cost of cleaning up from climate-change-driven severe weather events, the cost of pollution-related health problems, and the cost to local economies of fishing grounds being devastated by ocean acidification.

Because the fossil fuel fat-cats like Exxon and the Kochs just pass the costs of these externalities on for you and me to pay the bill, while getting an estimated $5.3 trillion in subsidies every year, the fossil fuel industry is artificially profitable and artificially competitive.

This creates a vicious cycle in which the fossil fuel industry has absolutely zero incentive to change its ways because doing so would cut into its profits margins.

Putting a price on carbon, however, would flip the script.

Forcing the fossil fuel industry to pay for even a small percentage of the damage it does to our planet would, in turn, give it an incentive to keep carbon in the ground.

Emissions would go down and everyone would be better off.

This isn’t some wild-eyed theory, either. We’ve seen carbon pricing work wonders right here in America.

Since 2011, the 9 state cap-and-trade system that covers Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states has cut carbon emissions by 15 percent and saved consumers $460 million off their electric bills.

It’s the most under-reported story in America, and it just goes to show how easy it is to solve the global warming problem if we would only get our act together, push back against the climate misinformation funded by the Kochs and ExxonMobil, and do the things we know we need to do to save the climate.

Oh, and just for the record, cap-and-trade systems are just one way we can put a price on carbon.

Another method is the carbon tax, which would actually be easier to implement than a cap-and-trade scheme and less likely to get hijacked by lobbyists.

It would also be just as effective.

Even a small $10-per-ton national carbon tax would cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 28 percent of 2005 levels, save tens of thousands of lives, and jump-start the renewable energy industry by finally putting it on an equal playing field with Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Coal.

This isn’t complicated.

It’s just common sense, and if world leaders at December’s climate talks really want to come up with a plan to save the planet, they’d get serious about putting a price on carbon.


Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 8 years 33 weeks ago

Instant-Runoff posted #8 yesterday hit the nail on the head

Add to that... business and politics should be separated in the same way religion and politics is separated

Why does that appear to be unattanable?

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 8 years 33 weeks ago

Sorry! Typo should read 'unattainable'

Instant-RunOff-... 8 years 33 weeks ago

There is really very little hope anything significant will be done about this catastrophe. There is just way too much money in fossil fuels, the World's biggest industry and intimately connected to the ruling Bankster overseers, who control and fund the Big Fossil companies.

My own country, Canada, has degenerated into another Petrostate. Oil up, C$ up, lots of jobs, Oil down, C$ in the sewer, layoffs all around, cutbacks in social services, healthcare, hiring freezes, imports very expensive. Very little appetite up here to replace fossil fuels. Even myself, ardent opponent of fossil fuels, still suffer occasionally the nagging thought " how much better it would be for us if the Oil price went back up above $100".

You see these ads on CNN everyday for rail companies touting how they supply our goods. What they don't tell you is half their loads are coal. And rapidly increasing are crude oil. They will not sit back and allow a hundred car coal train to be replaced by a pickup truck load of uranium.

All these other Petrostates: Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, Venezuala, Nigeria, USA have no interest in giving up much of their income for the benefit of humanity.

Bankster's Globalist empire is based on the petrodollar and the international trade in oil & gas, all funded by petrodollars, which they create out of thin air, and lend to desperate nations so they can buy the energy lifeblood of their economy. Forcing nations to go into debt, and become debt slaves, as Greece now is. And vast profits from oil speculation. As favorite Bankster stooge Henry Kissinger stated: " If you control the energy you control the country; if you control food, you control the population..".

These guys are the masters of deception and they will use any ruse to prevent any serious effort to replace fossil fuels.

And automakers that rely on fossil fuels to power their product, gas stations, utilities, giant Oil, Gas and Coal equipment companies like GE, which make much of their income on turbine sales. Arms merchants make massive profits on petro-conflicts. Take away Oil & Gas and the Middle East would become a boring desert which would scarcely make it into the news. No more oil wars and petro-funded terrorism.

So I'm afraid, all of these Vested interests will buy every politician, his wife, kids and even the family pet, in order to prevent replacing fossil fuels. And use every deception imaginable, buy all the mainstream media, buy ENGOs, like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, UCS, NRDC and a thousand more. Buy bureaucrats & government agencies.

Take Hillary, her & Bill are Big Oil/NG stooges if there ever was any. Promoting her nutty home solar plan which will cost ten's of $billions and achieve precisely zip. All smoke and mirrors, propaganda, sounds impressive, gets gullible greenies happily waving their little green flags, but doesn't achieve anything, except pushing up electricity prices so the poor can't afford electricity. Obama calls that "energy efficiency".

And Bill Clinton and his "Clinton Global Initiative" teaming up with Shell Oil promoting what they call an "important energy solution" for the developing nations. Supposed to save the world with "renewable energy". They have the soccer star Pele promoting it. They developed this soccer ball with a pressure to current transducer and a battery inside it. So the kids can play soccer all day thereby charging the battery, and then one of them (the captain of the winning team?) gets to take the soccer ball home and plug a LED lamp into the soccer ball for some fun reading or porn viewing in the evening. The lengths the fossil fuel disinformation cronies are going to foist these bait-and-switch scams upon the gullible public are amazing.

There is only one way to solve the fossil fuel / climate change dilemna. And that is a rapid build-out of nuclear power. Entirely doable, and that is why the Bankster/Oil barons, fossil fuel vested interests will do anything and everything to blockade Nuclear power:

Sweden and France show that China, India and the World could go 100% nuclear within 25-34 years:


"...Staffan Qvist, physicist at Uppsala University, and his co-author Barry Brook, an ecologist and computer modeler at the University of Tasmania, relied on comes from two countries in Europe to prove nuclear energy scaling: Sweden and France. The Swedes began research to build nuclear reactors in 1962 in a bid to wean the country off burning oil for power as well as to protect rivers from hydroelectric dams. By 1972, the first boiling water reactor at Oskarshamn began to host fission and churn out electricity. The cost was roughly $1,400 per kilowatt of electric capacity (in 2005 dollars), which is cheap compared to the $7,000 per kilowatt of electric capacity of two new advanced nuclear reactors being built in the U.S. right now. By 1986, with the addition of 11 more reactors, half of Sweden's electricity came from nuclear power and carbon dioxide emissions per Swede had dropped by 75 percent compared to the peak in 1970...."

dorfman 8 years 33 weeks ago

Has the info about "Bolshevik" and "Menshevik" gotten through yet? It's absolutely not anti-semitic (though many Mensheviks were Jewish).

Instant-RunOff-... 8 years 33 weeks ago

About the only route I can see that serious carbon mitigation will begin is through Asian developing nations. Chiefly China & India. They have almost 40% of the World's population and are eager to develop rapidly which means rapid energy growth. They quite simply will not be able to sustain that growth with rapidly depleting fossil fuels. And their most economical and only significant domestic fossil fuel being filthy coal which is killing millions of their own people while poisoning their atmosphere.

They really will have no choice eventually to go rapid nuclear expansion. That will let the cat out of the bag, and you can be sure they will sell dirt-cheap nuclear reactors, probably barge-built, to developing nations, and that will finally break the nuclear blockade.

While western nations continue relying on fossil fuels, with some token renewables to greenwash them and supply propaganda & disinformation for the gullibles, developing nations will be forced to move to nuclear. This will make western nations look so pathetic and backward that eventually they will be forced to relent out of total embarrassment and remove their roadblocks against nuclear.

That is about the only way that this climate change, GHG emissions, peak oil, high energy price catastrophe will be solved.

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