We Need to Put a Price on Carbon

Last year the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) addresses ways for the U.S. to reduce its massive deficit. One interesting component of the report was that it recommended a carbon tax of $25 per ton of emissions, pointing out that it would reduce the deficit by one trillion dollars within a decade.

Of the 103 different methods the report addressed—consisting of methods that both cut spending and generate revenue—a carbon tax was the biggest winner. The $25 price tag was arbitrarily set to demonstrate what kind of funds can be generated, but there’s no reason the price couldn’t be higher. For example, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget put the social cost of carbon (i.e. the damage it causes including both pollution and global warming) at about $37 per metric ton, so it might make sense if the carbon tax at least offset that.

This video offers some rationale for considering a carbon tax. To me, it only makes sense that we stop thinking of the impact of carbon emissions as an externality we can continue to ignore. We would never let a factory dump waste into a river knowing the harm it causes. Carbon pollution should be thought of in the very same way.

France Goes Green: First a Ban on Fracking, Now a Carbon Tax

“The low carbon economy is at the leading edge of a structural shift now taking place globally.”
William Hague

Last week the French Parliament adopted its budget for next year. And guess what: it includes a carbon tax covering emissions from gasoline, heating oil and coal. The funds generated from this tax—estimated to be about $5.5 billion annually—will be put to good use by increasing renewable energy and will provide tax breaks for both wind and solar power industries.

Carbon pollution will be taxed at a gradual rate, first starting at seven euros (about ten dollars) per tonne emitted during 2014, then rising to 14.5 euros (about twenty dollars) in 2015, and then up to 22 euros (about thirty dollars) in 2016. These measures are part of a larger strategy to reduce emissions in the country. Just two months ago, France put a complete ban on all fracking, cancelling all exploration permits. President Francois Hallande intends to reduce France’s use of fossil fuels by thirty percent by the year 2030 and by 50 percent by 2050. Continue reading

Smart Companies Prepare for a Price on Carbon

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
—old adage

We’ve all heard that phrase numerous times in our lives, and I expect we’ve all lived its message more than once. But I never thought I would see the day when big business took those words to heart.

It turns out that more than two dozen of the biggest corporations in the U.S. are planning their own future growth on the anticipation that the U.S. government will put a price on carbon pollution as one of the means to help combat global warming. Most remarkable of all is the fact that these companies include all five major oil companies. It brings up an interesting point: big business is preparing for reality far better than their right-wing political supporters are.

The environmental data company CDP has just released a report outlining how at least 29 companies are incorporating a price on carbon into their long-term financial plans. Despite having strong ties to Republicans, big oil companies such as ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP and Shell see the writing on the wall and realize that the best way to deal with the future is to prepare for it. Continue reading

It's Time to Put a Price on Carbon

A new report just released from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) addresses ways for the U.S. to reduce its massive deficit. One interesting component of the report: a carbon tax of $25 per ton of emissions would reduce the deficit by one trillion dollars within a decade.

Of the 103 different methods the report addresses—consisting of methods that both cut spending and generate revenue—a carbon tax was the biggest winner. The $25 price tag was arbitrarily set to demonstrate what kind of funds can be generated, but there’s no reason the price couldn’t be higher. For example, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget puts the social cost of carbon (i.e. the damage it causes including both pollution and global warming) at about $37 per metric ton, so it might make sense if the carbon tax at least offset that.

This video offers some rationale for considering a carbon tax. To me, it only makes sense that we stop thinking of carbon pollution as an externality we can continue to ignore. We would never let a factory dump waste into a river knowing the harm it causes. Carbon pollution should be thought of in the very same way.

Is Carbon Pollution Fueling Australia's Fires?

“We have never had this in October. This is a feature of slowly evolving climate. We have always had fires, but not of this nature, and not at this time of year, and not accompanied by the record-breaking heat we’ve had.”
—Phil Koperberg, former rural fire services commissioner

Australia’s election last month gave a mandate to Tony Abbott, a political leader staunchly opposed to his country’s existing carbon tax. Although some took this as a message that Australians were opposed to the carbon tax in general—as one of my contrarian friends put it, “deomcracy in action!”—that’s not necessarily the case. One of my Australian friends pointed out that as far as Australian media coverage dealt with the election, immigration was the bigger issue, not the carbon tax. (She also pointed out that Abbott would never have won if not for the heavy financial backing of both Rupert Murdoch and Rinehart mining. Nice to know that the fossil fuel industry calls the shots even down under: Democracy in action, indeed!)

Regardless of whether the carbon tax was an important issue or not, Australians are now feeling the heat of climate change. Continue reading