Monday, January 28, 2013

Carbon trading, carbon tax, won't work. Here is why

Carbon market solutions to #climatechange are supply-side solutions.

The idea is that industry will gradually replace fossil-fuel energy sources. What is not said, is that the renewables are very low in net energy. This means the carbon price will have to be very high. Too high to become law at a rate that will have any effect. Consequently the increase in renewables will allow more growth, but not reduce fossil fuel use. Carbon credits earned by conservation will simply be added to the growth side, or traded to extend the life of another dirty industry.

What we need are demand-side solutions that are consistent with degrowth. What if the dollars put into implementing a carbon market scheme (imagine the legal costs!) were instead spent on free public transit. Cities would become more attractive, and many would move in and give up their car. As more did, there would be more political urgency about fixing urban life, and more money to do it, starting a virtuous circle.

Urban living, if comfortable, would lower the birth rate.

Carbon markets such as REDD and EU carbon pricing, have already proven problematic, if not downright destructive. Is the U.S. going to embark on an expensive, time-consuming mistake?