A Free-Market Energy Blog

James Hansen’s Tax-Tariff-Reparations Climate Policy

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 18, 2014

In a recent blog,  The People’s March (August 29, 2014), James Hansen urges his readers to join the New York City March this Sunday (September 21st).

“[B]efore plainly stating why the March is important, let me address several issues,” he writes. Here are Hansen’s issues–the good, the bad, the ugly, the uglier–by quotation from his recent post.

Reject CO2 Cap-and-Trade (The Good)

“The ineffectual UN Kyoto cap-and-trade scheme was doomed from the start. A ‘cap’ approach inevitably raises 190 fights about each nation’s cap. Countries must be bribed to accept a low cap, governments at home often refute them, and even ineffectual caps are unenforceable.”

“Regulations are not a solution….”

“We must make specific demands, or we end up with ineffectual monstrosities such as the cap-and-trade bill in the U.S. Congress.”

“What should [India’s] cap be? Maybe start with U.S. emissions and then multiply by the ratio of national populations? Whatever the outcome of that fight, our planet (our progeny and other species) would be cooked – and there are 189 other fights.”

Carbon Tax (The Bad)

“Now, as we must phase out fossil fuel emissions, a gradually but steadily rising carbon price provides the framework and the incentives for all nations to prosper.”

“Internationally, an agreement among the major powers is needed for a rising carbon fee. It does not necessarily have to come at the Paris 2015 meeting, but it must be soon. The rest is detail.”

Protectionism (The Ugly)

“The way to phase down fossil emissions rapidly is via a rising carbon fee collected at domestic mines and ports of entry. Each nation can choose how to use the funds, but in most nations the funds had better be distributed to all legal residents.”

“The carbon fee can be made near-global, because border duties would be collected on products from non-participating nations, a huge incentive for all nations to join.”

Reparations (Uglier Ugly)

“Developed countries emitted most of the excess carbon that is in the air today, and are thus mainly responsible for human-caused climate change. Many developing countries are at low latitudes where climate impacts will be severe. Reparations are appropriate and needed.”

“Agreement on this may not be so difficult because, as noted in Jeremiah’s Progeny, developed countries will need the cooperation of developing countries in various ways. These include preservation of forests and reduction of non-CO2 climate forcings. Fortunately, these needed actions have local benefits and the resources required to encourage them are reasonable.”

“Reparations should be continually dependent upon demonstrated cooperation in these matters.”

Marching for Statism

“Why march, why you?” asks Hansen. He answers:

You will have to answer to your children. You understood the situation at a time when it was not too late. Instead of standing up for them, did you choose to sit at home.

Americans will be at home, perhaps sitting in a pew in the morning or watching a football game in the afternoon. American common sense includes discounting the experts like Hansen (analytic failure) and rejecting government solutions (government failure) in the name of trying to correct an alleged (but hardly proven) market failure.

It will be cold and blustery for a September day in New York for a march, anyway….

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