A Carbon Tax Does It Better
Most economists agree that a straight forward tax upon energy's carbon [ark] is far preferable to a greenhouse gas trading system. Carbon markets [search] are failing to reduce emissions, and are complex and expensive. A carbon tax [search] simply charges a fee for every ton of CO2 produced by users of fossil fuels. So far it appears President-Elect Obama will be going for the carbon market approach, seriously bringing into question whether he wants to appear to be addressing climate change, or actually succeed in doing so in time.
Another issue immediately facing Obama is what to do with Canada's criminally environmentally damaging tar sands [ark]: carbon markets may well tolerate their pollution with offsets or some such nonsense. A carbon tax would better make producers and users pay for the utterly devastating externalities associated with ripping up boreal forests by the bulldozer load, turning water and land into toxic waste dumps, to squeeze out a bit of synthetic oil. Carbon markets tolerate tar sands and other irredeemable activities such as ancient forest logging and coal burning, while properly assessed carbon taxes would make these activities simply uneconomic, as they should be. No climate policy that allows continued oil sands [search] production will ever prove sufficient to maintain an operable atmosphere — and it should be taxed out of existence.