Sunday, April 17, 2016

Drinking Water:  Carbon Pricing Revenues Could Close Infrastructure Gaps

More than 700 million people worldwide have no running water.  A new study shows that a tax on carbon dioxide could help remedy this situation while contributing considerably to climate protection.

Share of carbon pricing revenues required to finance universal access to water infrastructure under domestic carbon pricing (i.e., without transfers between countries) for an average 2°C scenario. The darker the color, the higher the share, with dark purple shares exceeding 100%. White areas denote countries for which data are not available. Please note the logarithmic scale. [Figure Credit: Jakob, et al. (2016)] Click to Enlarge.
"It's possible to finance the drinking water supply in the majority of countries worldwide by the year 2030," says Dr. Michael Jacob, lead author of the study from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in Berlin.  In India alone a carbon tax would generate around 115 billion US dollars a year, "and only a fraction of that would be needed for clean water, meaning that enough money would remain for sanitation and electricity," said the researcher.  In fact, the needed infrastructure for this second largest country of the world would consume only about four percent of the revenue from the tax.

That said, there are a few countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where carbon pricing would not suffice, namely because carbon emissions there are so low that they would yield little revenue.  "However, this funding gap could be closed when considering that developing countries have not yet exhausted their right to use the atmosphere," says Jakob.  "Avoidance of emissions would then entitle them to compensation payments from industrialized countries."

The MCC study, which examined the development potential for not only water, sanitation and electricity but also ICT and roads, was published under the title "Carbon pricing revenues could close infrastructure gaps" in the journal World Development.  In their calculations the researchers assume that every country in the world is now introducing a steadily increasing carbon tax.  In 2020 the tax would have to be 40 US dollars per tonne of CO2 emissions and increase up to 175 US dollars by 2030.

"In addition to generating revenue for infrastructure, the tax would thus contribute to the international goal of limiting global warming to two degrees," explains Dr. Sabine Fuss, co-author of the study who is also a guest researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).  "This is because the tax penalizes the use of fossil fuels and creates incentives for zero-carbon technologies."  Money not needed for the infrastructure could be used to mitigate climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, which affect in particular the developing countries.

Read more at Drinking Water:  Carbon Pricing Revenues Could Close Infrastructure Gaps

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