The risks of fossil fuels remain speculative, but if they really are the apocalypse of Mr. Hansen's prophecies, then the cleanest remedy is a tax. That would raise energy and all other prices as the incentive for new technologies and investments. But a tax would be neutral, eliminating the market distortions caused by subsidies and regulation, and the proceeds could be used to offset other taxes. The transition to a world in which growth is not tied to carbon would still be long and extremely expensive, but a tax would be the least painful way to get there.
Friday, December 5, 2008
WSJ.com - Some Carbon Candor
A climate guru rebukes his mates on cap and trade.
...Mr. Hansen also had the honesty to follow his convictions to their logical conclusion, while reproaching his followers -- President-elect Obama among them -- for not doing the same. To wit, Mr. Hansen endorses a straight carbon tax as the only "honest, clear and effective" way to reduce emissions, with the revenues rebated in their entirety to consumers on a per-capita basis. "Not one dime should go to Washington for politicians to pick winners," he writes.