[color=#BF4000]NOTE TO MOD: I would appreciate if this could stand. I’ll come back and edit that post as the kind folks here at forumosa provide me with the insight and data that it requires. I CAN’T EDIT THE ORIGINAL BECAUSE THAT TOPIC IS LOCKED[/color]
Toward a Carbon Tax
Human beings “love” business because it allows them an opportunity to exercise their power and intelligence in the pursuit of personal gain. Business socializes people. It is the basis of almost all productive human activity.
However, there are distinct limits that need to be placed on business, and the most important limitations are the ones that relate to externalities. In economic terms, an externality is a by-product of economic activity that affects a third person.
Air pollution is a good example of an externality. Much of it comes about as result of the economic activity that occurs when a person buys and operates an automobile. The externalities (air and water pollution, degraded living environments etc.) generated by the sale, purchase and consumption of gasoline has to be controlled by government regulation for the simple reason that no market force can fulfill this function.
There is no “profit” in it.
Controlling for externalities is one of the very most basic functions of government. Exactly what the controls might be, or how they might operate is open to debate, but the necessity for controls is clear.
Once the necessity for controls has been established it becomes possible to look at how controls might be used in the fight against climate change.
And before we discuss that it might be wise to look at what the evidence for climate change actually indicates.
climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/i … m#SeaLevel
timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w … 907919.ece
Melting ice caps, massive coral bleaching, increasing frequency of El Nino phenomenon etc. are well establish scientific facts and are directly attributable to the 90,000,000 “tonnes” of C02 that human beings generate “daily.”
Of course, there are other effects as well…
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of … _peat_bogs
solveclimate.com/blog/20090506/b … ears-early
There are sceptics of course, “paid” sceptics many of them. We saw a similar pattern in relation to the ozone hole…
wunderground.com/education/o … eptics.asp
Given that climate change is occuring as result of economic activity we can call it an externality that needs to be controlled. The next question that arises is the question of what sort of control might be most effective.
It is proposed that the most effective control would be a carbon tax that is spent directly on funding alternatives. That funding should come mainly in the form of tax breaks to those people investing in green technologies: solar panels, wind power systems, electric cars, efficiency measures such as double glazed windows, insulation, energy efficient light bulbs, etc. could be exempt from all taxation. Profits from alternative energy investments could also be exempt, for a time.
There are some programs already in place…
www2.canada.com/edmontonjournal/ … f5&k=25708
taipeitimes.com/News/bizfocu … 2003442590
But new federal incentives to encourage renewable energy in the US will give the industry a boost, analysts say.
The recent stimulus package included grants for businesses and utilities that install solar energy systems, and the bank bailout package last year removed the dollar cap on a 30 percent tax credit for home installations. Makers of renewable energy equipment also received help in the stimulus package.
All of the major car manufacturers are coming out with hybrid or electric cars.
money.CNN.com/2009/03/20/autos/f … /index.htm
Perhaps they need a bit of a boost, for everybody’s sake. China has a such plan already in place…
huffingtonpost.com/marc-gunt … 86610.html
Any excess revenue could be spent by local governments to improve mass transit systems, where applicable. In some cases improvements could be low tech and inexpesive…
taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/ … 2003440513
In most countries (Taiwan and China being the most notable exceptions) a tax on oil and gas already exists and it is proposed that these taxes remain.
What we are trying to create with the carbon tax is a carrot and stick approach that discourages carbon consumption while encouraging alternatives. It is proposed that the tax be very small, almost symbolic, in the beginning as people adjust to the idea.
Perhaps as low as 1% for developing countries and 2% for developed countries. A higher tax rate could, of course, fund more tax breaks and a lower tax rate would would fund fewer. It is proposed that a minimal tax be instated now and if climate change becomes an even more obvious threat in the future that the tax be increased. If it is discovered that climate change is not such a threat and “if” the tax indeed does have a serious negative effect on the economy it could be reduced.
That is the kind of detail that would need to be worked out by economists and politicians. There are quite a few on the payroll. This is the work we want them to do.
This is a common sense, workable solution. The cap and trade mechanisms in existence can remain. What is being proposed is another measure to complement it.
There are those that would argue against such a measure on the grounds that it would be too expensive and that it would discourage economic growth. They appear to be wrong on both fronts. It is now possible to generate electricity using solar energy more cheaply than can be done with coal.
celsias.com/article/nanosola … now-cheap/
Here’s a look at what the mining of coal actually involves…
And those places in the world that have given tax relief to those investing in alternatives, Spain in particular, have seen a boom in economic activity.
Germany’s experiment has been similarly successful…
wind-works.org/articles/Dard … yCity.html
It could also be argued that given the profits earned by oil companies the tax could be absorbed from their profits. That is, a tax coud be levied at no cost to the consumer. They certainly make enough profit…
priceofoil.org/2008/01/31/shell- … e-profits/
It will further be argued by opponents of such a measure that this sort of tax would pit one country against another with the competitive advantage going to the countries that don’t impose such a tax. Those countries, it is proposed, could eventually be denied entry into trade bodies. Or perhaps some other kind of sanction could be applied.
A tremendous amount of good faith is being sought here. An honest effort to actually do something about the global warming and other forms of environmental degredation.
It might also be argued that the tax would hurt the poorest elements of society worst by making almost all consumer goods more expensive. There is some truth to that arguement but it should also be noted that the design, manufacture, distribution, sale, installation and maintence of alternative energy technologies would generate a lot of employment.
The revenue from the tax would also help to provide more reliable, convenient and affordable public tranist, which of course would help the poorest members of society.
People who have invested everything into the exploitation of fossil fuels would of course be hurt economically. But those same people could, if they choose, benefit from exactly the same tax breaks being proposed here. They would only need to invest differently.
The population of the world is growing, as is it’s demand for energy. As is it’s destructive impact on the ecology of the planet. Those destructive impacts are almost always associated with the consumption of fossil fuels.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fue … al_effects
Oil and gas are too cheap. That fact is made abundantly clear by virtue of the amount of it that is consumed and the kind of mad consumption it leads to.
Here is a story told to me by an apologist for the oil companies:
Two young men are sitting in a crowded night club late at night.
One asks the other for a light for his cigarrette.
The other grabs a lighter, gives the flint a try… doesn’t work.
The first man suggests that they try another.
It doesn’t work either.
They try a few, none of them work.
Finally the second man wonders aloud “What the heck, they can’t ALL be broken.”
To which the first responds “No, they’re not broken.”
“There is not enough oxygen left in the room.”
The story because reveals something about human nature of course and is analogous to what is happening globally. In the same way that some people will sit in a room and smoke until there is no oxygen left, people will continue to emit poisons into the atmosphere long after it has begun to make them sick. They will continue to release CO2 into the atmosphere long after it has begun to make the earth sick. This is exactly the apathetic, nihilistic tendency that needs to confronted in the struggle against climate change.
Perhaps the best worst example is the Tar sands developments in western Cananda.
Most of the oil from these projects is shipped to the United States.
Interesting, isn’t it, the amount of coverage the air pollution problems in China receive relative to this?
Here is a pretty good summary of the entire situation from cost of oil.
So when it comes down to the question of whether we can actually afford to shift away from petroleum-based energy system one should remember that the combined impact of wars, terrorism and environmental degradation is likely to send the price of oil right through the ceiling over the next two decades. Alternatively, the cost of emerging technologies is likely to decrease over time, as mass production and commercialization takes place.
Furthermore, if history is our guide, we can see that every industrial and technological revolution in history inspired an economic boom. Building an infrastructure for next-generation energies would generate millions of jobs around the world, and revolutionize the automobile industry as well as other industries.
Researching, developing, and introducing new transportation technologies that are cleaner, safer, and less economically destructive should, therefore, be our top national security and economic priority.
This is not an appeal specifically to politicians or business leaders. It is an appeal to the public to “demand” something reasonable and workable of politicians and business leaders.
They have not inspired confidence so far. Since signing on to the Kyoto protocol, for example, Cananda’s emmisions have increased 26%, essentially making it a pariah state in the fight against global warming.
Here is what has been accomplished in Coppenhagen so far…
guardian.co.uk/environment/2 … anish-text
They failed because there was no good faith brought to the table and because no common sense workable solution has been discussed.
It is ventured that a workable solution has been presented here. Perhaps a workable solution can inspire some good faith.