Hi, Connector subscribers! I’m back from three weeks in SE Asia. Several things have been happening while I was away. I’ll catch up on them in a quick series of posts today and tomorrow.
One important item is the monthly posting of Chad Tolman’s Climate Change News. In this month’s blog, Chad compiles a great list of videos and articles about climate change and global warming, including the following excerpt from a Jan. 19 The New York Times editoral.
In Chad’s words: “This is an excellent editorial that everyone interested in the future should read. It is a shame that so members of Congress, as well as a number of the leading candidates for President, are so backward on one of the most important issues facing the United States and the World.”
“Lawmakers who oppose taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions by putting a price on carbon often argue that doing so would hurt businesses and consumers. But the energy policies adopted by some American states and Canadian provinces demonstrate that those arguments are simply unfounded.
“Around the world, nearly 40 nations, including the 28-member European Union, and many smaller jurisdictions are engaged in some form of carbon pricing. In this hemisphere, British Columbia, Quebec, California and nine Northeastern states have raised the cost of burning fossil fuels without damaging the economy. Alberta, Canada’s biggest oil and gas producer, and Ontario have said they will adopt similar policies.
“Carbon pricing comes in two forms: a direct tax on emissions or a cap on emissions. British Columbia, for instance, has levied a tax on emissions from fuels like gasoline, natural gas and heating oil. California and Quebec, which are working together, place a ceiling on overall emissions and allow utilities, manufacturing plants, fuel distributors and others to buy and sell permits that entitle them to emit greenhouse gases. Like the cap itself, the number of permits decline over time, becoming more expensive.
Many economists regard carbon taxes as the simpler and more elegant solution, and cap-and-trade systems like the one that failed in the United States Congress was complex and hard to explain. But both systems effectively raise the price of using fossil fuels, which encourages utilities and other producers to generate more energy from low-carbon sources like solar, wind and nuclear power.
“In Alberta, a new government announced in November that it would impose a tax of 30 Canadian dollars on most greenhouse gas emissions by the start of 2018. The province’s leaders also said they would phase out the use of coal power plants and impose caps on carbon and methane emissions from Alberta’s oil and gas industry.”
“In that context, China’s announcement last year that it would set up a national cap-and-trade system was hugely encouraging — the world’s largest emitter agreeing to tax itself to help solve a problem that, only a few years ago, it barely acknowledged. Yet Congress has refused to act even as it becomes clear that putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions is the most direct and cost-effective way to address climate change.”