Cap and Trade Good Policy Even if not for Climate


I think that reducing carbon emission in response to warming may not be wise.  While it is clear the climate is getting hotter, that policy induced reductions in carbon emissions are wise isn’t.

There may be none CO2 effects that are warming the climate.  Chief among these is trends in solar activity.  Though I think the support for these is becoming weaker.

The effect of mild warmer are not known.  Some may be positive.  The UN estimates of the cost of Global warming are moderate to small.

Even if we conclude warmer needs to be reduced, there may approaches such as intentional introduction of SO2 into the atmosphere that may more cost effectively reduce level of warming to acceptable levels.

I will take exception to dismissing the tools embodied in the cap and trade proposal however.  The point of Cap and Trade is to establish a market in the scarce carrying capacity for carbon of the atmosphere.  The establishment of property rights of a scarce good is not not “socialism”.  The question here is the carbon carrying capacity of the Earth truly scarce?   For the reason I just cited this is not established yet.  But the use of limited rights to pollute is good economics.

Other economists have made the same point:

To reject this legacy and embrace the failed 1970s policies of one-size-fits-all regulatory mandates would signify unilateral surrender of principled support for markets. If some conservatives oppose energy or climate policies because of disagreement about the threat of climate change or the costs of those policies, so be it. But in the process of debating risks and costs, there should be no tarnishing of market-based policy instruments. Such a scorched-earth approach will come back to haunt when future environmental policies will not be able to use the power of the marketplace to reduce business costs.

Virtually all economists agree on a market-based approach to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Some favor carbon taxes combined with revenue-neutral cuts in distortionary taxes, whereas others support cap-and-trade mechanisms — or “cap-and-dividend,’’ with revenues from auctioned allowances refunded directly to citizens.

The rest of the article is here.

Harvard University – Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs – An Economic View of the Environment » Blog Archive » Beware of Scorched-Earth Strategies in Climate Debates.

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