In a previous post today I alluded to the fact that I am very familiar with the carbon tax debate and that I did some work around the subject in Washington with people who were very pro-tax. It was part of my transpartisan work, and I believe there is ample room for discussion between disparate groups on a host of political subjects. This was an area of focus for me for a while.
As I also mentioned, I came to absolutely disagree (that is further disagree) with the pro-carbon tax people for a number of reasons. Most of the reasons I disagree with a carbon tax are based in very deep issues of political philosophy (at least they run deep for me), taxation, property rights, the definition of externalities etc. But one area, that particularly bugged me was that while American carbon emissions had been declining for a while, (thanks to a large degree to fracking and natural gas) and only represented a small small percentage of all carbon emitted into the atmosphere, China’s emissions were through the roof, and increasing. But no one seriously wanted to address the China carbon issue in Washington. Their focus was on the revenue the government could get from a US tax as I saw it, and not actually on reducing emissions. If it were really about reducing emissions, and let me say that I think many of the people I worked with on this subject were pro-carbon tax for good intentions and thought that it might have some impact on “climate change,” then there would have been a greater focus on China, which was the clear carbon problem. Especially going forward. (India is also a challenge, though much less so.) But this was not an area of focus. Instead these folks wanted to tax the very air we breathe in the USA, and hamper innovation, business, and job creation, in the name of “climate leadership.”
Shooting ourselves in the foot with a carbon tax, not to mention enabling the crony industries that would spring up around such a tax and compliance, I concluded was not a good idea. PARTICULARLY when China, the chief problem, wasn’t going to play by the same rules.
The attached article, I can tell you having looked at this issue very closely for a long time, is right on the money. China was playing us for chumps on carbon.
(From The Hill)
Just last week, an analysis from Greenpeace indicated that China’s 2018 carbon emissions were on track to grow at the fastest rate in six years. The study, based on government data regarding the use of coal and other energy sources, shows carbon output rising 4 percent in the first quarter of this year. Analysts are projecting similar gains over the next several quarters…
…The weakness of the Paris Agreement was that it was lopsided, requiring little from China and a great deal from the U.S. President Obama committed the United States to reducing carbon emissions in 2025 by 26 to 28 percent, which would have meant a substantial jump in electricity costs.
(Which would have hurt the poor the most.)
…China is key. It is by far the world’s biggest source of carbon emissions, producing more than one quarter of the global total and 81 percent more than the United States. The U.S. is the second-largest; India a distant third.
Unlike China, emissions from the United States have trended lower in recent years. The peak occurred in 2005; overall net emissions in 2016 were 12.1-percent lower than in 2005, and the International Energy Agency reports another drop in 2017.
The main driver of lower emissions in the U.S. has been increased substitution of natural gas for coal in producing electric power. Cleaner natural gas became increasingly competitive with cheap coal thanks to widespread use of newly improved hydraulic fracking techniques.