Wednesday, October 21, 2015

These World Leaders Agree:  We Need a Price on Carbon

World Leaders (Credit: Dylan Petrohilos/AP) Click to Enlarge.
The cost of carbon is having a moment, with economists, environmentalists, and even the pope supporting a price on carbon emissions.

And on Monday, the World Bank announced a high-level group, the Carbon Pricing Panel, which brings together heads of state, local leaders, and business executives.  The luminaries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, and California Gov. Jerry Brown, are calling on policymakers and negotiators to use carbon pricing mechanisms, setting the stage for strengthening emissions reduction plans expected at the United Nations conference in December.

“There has never been a global movement to put a price on carbon at this level and with this degree of unison,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

Putting a price on carbon uses a standard economic tool and is broadly favored by economists as an efficient and effective way of reducing emissions.  How it will be implemented worldwide remains to be seen.  Some climate activists worry that some programs will push emissions down far too slowly to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

“The only approach that would work is an across-the-board rising carbon fee covering every fossil fuel at the source — the first sale at the domestic mine or port of entry,” Jim Hansen, a leading climate scientist, told ThinkProgress.  “If the collected funds were distributed to the public, an equal amount to each legal resident, the economy would be stimulated, most people could make money, and fossil fuel use would go down rapidly.  I call this fee-and-dividend, as opposed to cap-and-trade.  It is not a tax, because the government gets no money, the government does not grow bigger.”
But one key element of the World Bank panel — and the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, an advisory group which will officially launch at the beginning of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris on November 30 — is that they represent a broad range of interests.

Joe Robertson, the global strategy director at Citizens’ Climate Lobby, said that the structure of the coalition lends itself to offering better solutions.

Read more at These World Leaders Agree:  We Need a Price on Carbon

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