Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Big Green Test by Paul Krugman

On Sunday Henry Paulson, the former Treasury secretary and a lifelong Republican, had an Op-Ed article about climate policy in The New York Times. In the article, he declared that man-made climate change is “the challenge of our time,” and called for a national tax on carbon emissions to encourage conservation and the adoption of green technologies. Considering the prevalence of climate denial within today’s G.O.P., and the absolute opposition to any kind of tax increase, this was a brave stand to take.

But not nearly brave enough. Emissions taxes are the Economics 101 solution to pollution problems; every economist I know would start cheering wildly if Congress voted in a clean, across-the-board carbon tax. But that isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future. A carbon tax may be the best thing we could do, but we won’t actually do it.

1 comment:

Ron Foote said...

Hysterical Koch-inspired politics aside, renewables will carry the day and hopefully the century. Perhaps not in our lifetimes but given marginal costs fossil fuels increasingly won't be able to compete on cost given that wind and sun are inexhaustible resources and the cost to produce electricity will only go down as the cost to produce electricity with coal and natural gas will only go up and that's not even factoring the social and environmental costs associated with fossils. Like it or not, the future belongs to clean energy. There will come a day when our descendants regard coal and oil the way we regard whale oil and kerosene now. Despite the best efforts of current conservatives, the world will move on with or without them because it won't be conservative versus liberal approaches. It will be a simple matter of economics and cost. People generally resist change in whatever context but change is happening all the time opposing it only prolongs the inevitable. Renewables will rule. Business already knows this.

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