“Feb. 2 will be remembered as the date when uncertainty was removed as to whether humans had anything to do with climate change on this planet,” declared Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program. Steiner was quoted in the New York Times’ Feb. 3 front-page lead story on the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report of the drivers of climate change, observed changes in climate and projections for future climate change.
The Summary for Policymakers released with the IPCC report states:
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level…
“At continental, regional, and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in Arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones…
“For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2 deg C per decade is projected for a range of … emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1 deg C per decade would be expected…
“Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century…
“Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes.”
Urgent action is required. As set forth elsewhere on this site, charging American businesses and individuals a price to emit carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential to reduce U.S. emissions quickly and steeply enough to prevent atmospheric concentrations of CO2 from reaching an irreversible tipping point.
Euros need to get off their pompous "we know best" on environmental issues. Sorry to inform you folks, but Kyoto was a failure. A failure in policy. A failure in gaining worldwide cooperation. A failure in accomplishiing anything beneficial to the planet.
If Chirac and Euros want to see an economic trade war, pass a unilateral carbon tax. Nothing will piss off the U.S. and emerging countries like China and India more than a mandate from outside. It’s why the U.S. fought its revolutionary war. It’s why China and India fought for decades to expel colonial powers. The U.S. and others will rally against it not for envioronmental reasons, but to maintain independence by saying "f**k you" to outsiders.
Has the environmental lobby ever considered cooperation in agreements as essential??? Seems most are giddy about winning their debate point and cramming their solutions down our thoats in mandates vs. actually accomplishing anything beneficial to the planet.
We’ve put forth our climate crisis solution. Tell us yours. Thanks.
— Charles & Dan (CTC)
I applaud your efforts on this site. I’ve worked on a variety of state (CA) and national clean energy and other campaigns. Here are some initial thoughts I’ve had after reviewing the site and I’d be happy to help figure out communications and political strategy on this if you’d like.For starters, if you’re looking to develop a strategy for coalition building, I would recommend you reference this report by a couple of professors at UCLA about media bias. The most useful set of data in the report, in my opinion, is Table I, Page 55. It lists the 50 groups most cited by the US media, how often Congressmen cite them, and the average conservative / liberal score for the Congressmen that cite them. This is useful information if you’re looking to see who’s most influential in the public debate and who might be some of the best allies in pushing a carbon tax.It seems like you could develop quite a compelling coalition in favor of a carbon tax which includes folks like the Urban Institute / Brookings Tax Policy Center and Economic Policy Institute, the Sierra Club (especially given their work around environmental justice), Consumer Federation of America (if you were able to convince them that consumers would benefit overall, especially compared to other proposed climate policies), CATO (if they were sold on the angle that you’re reducing more onerous tax mechanisms), Federation of American Scientists, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, WWF, and others. Who knows, even folks like Citizens Against Government Waste might find it appealing because it’s not pushing subsidies.This policy seems to truly have bipartisan appeal, but framing the issue (a la George Lakoff and Frank Luntz) with the right language is probably one of the most important things to figure out quickly. "Tax waste, not work" comes to mind as a slogan, but I’m sure there are even better ones. I’m sure someone, somewhere, is conducting a focus group on this.Someone also needs to do the research on how this affects different locations in the US. How do citizens of California fare under this scheme compared to folks in Texas? Even better, how would the citizens of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (three key Presidential campaign states) fare under this policy?I hope these thoughts are helpful. Keep up the great work and let me know if I can be of any help.Evan
Here’s an example of someone at Brookings that you would find common cause with – http://www.brook.edu/views/papers/sandalow200604wri.htm. Evan
Here’s also a good article from Slate on Republican support for a carbon tax, though they insist it’s regressive.
Joseph Guse says
Patrick’s reaction is telling. A CO2 tax is about as far from "mandates stuffed down throats" as it gets. The tax is, by design, completely agnostic about specific solutions or modes of behavior. It simply provides incentive for whatever causes the least damage. I think this property of the tax is clearly established in the presentation on your website. Assuming that Patrick read your website, I suspect that he is pre-disposed to associate any efforts to solve this problem with the broader more tradition "environmental lobby" (which admittedly is often guilty of "stuffing mandates"). If so, then it underscores the importance of many of Evan’s recommendations – especially forming alliances as much as possible with a wide distribution of groups w.r.t. their political leanings.
Evan -Thanks for the very helpful suggestions. You are correct about the possibility of developing a compelling coalition. I would add to your list organizations that are concerned about dependence on foreign oil and related national security issues. We are very conscious of the importance of framing the issue and we are always open to suggestions. If anybody knows about someone conducting a focus group on how to frame a carbon tax, please tell us about it!
The link to the Brookings paper was not operative. Would you be able to send the paper to us?
And, yes, there is substantial Republican support for a carbon tax. See our "Who Supports" page. The carbon tax should be presented as a bipartisan response to global warming, tax equity and national security issues.
Joseph – I agree that a CO2 tax is agnostic about specific solutions, although I assume that energy efficiency and renewable energy will be obvious responses to higher prices. You are right on target re the need for alliances.
Michael D. Setty says
Slogans:"Tax pollution, not people" "Tax pollution, not workers"This is what my brain came up with in a few seconds. I’m sure there are more…
Hi Dan, I agree with you on the folks focused on national security. James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA, would be on my short list for folks in this area to get endorsement from. He and other hawks are involved with the Set America Free Coalition that has been pushing plug-in hybrids, among other solutions. Many other foreign policy organizations listed in table I of this report would be good to contact as well.I know that the Frameworks Institute has done a variety of work framing the climate change problem and potential solutions using focus groups and polling. George Lakoff, on the Left, and Frank Luntz, on the Right, would also be good people to work with on this (both of them think we should be acting on climate change). Public Agenda is also a great organization that’s been doing a lot of polling and focus group research on climate change.The Brookings report on green tax shifting is available here.I’m involved with an effort to organize a national citizen and stakeholder discussion on climate change and I think a carbon tax is likely to be one of the options we put forward to the public to ask them to deliberate upon and give their feedback.Let me know if I can be of any other help.Evan
Check out this op-ed in today’s Washington Post. Evan
The report from Brookings is here.
Great resources for focus grouping and framing a carbon tax include Frameworks Institute, George Lakoff, Frank Luntz, and Public Agenda. They are all supportive of action on climate change and have done research on public perception of the problem and solutions.
The AP is reporting that Paul Voelker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, has been saying that a carbon tax would not harm the economy and climate change would.
Check out National Journal’ new Congressional Insiders Poll. There seems to be little support for a carbon tax currently among Republicans and only 50% support among the Democrats surveyed.
Here’s a slightly old piece on framing climate change.
The vast majority of my rant is against two aspects of Chirac’s statement. First, that Europe has a right, given Kyoto’s failure, to demand the U.S. join a failed system. This failure is pointed out in the op-ed from the Washington Post (comment 9). Second, that a global carbon tax is the primary solution or even an effective way to improve the environment. It is just another tax, plain and simple.
Chirac is a socialist that has never met a tax he wouldn’t love to spend. I have no interest in helping a mediocre politician create his legacy based on my earnings.
(In response to Comment 2). Taxes are a negative response to a problem. They are a restrictive action. They are resisted over time. I started to write a long response on why a carbon tax will fail. However, you asked for an alternative solution.
The example we should follow is the EPA’s Energy Star program. Started in 1992 with almost no staff, Energy Star consists of a voluntary labeling of appliances for their power consumption and usage. It’s those pesky bright yellow labels on all appliances you see these days. Energy Star sets the overall power limits, but let’s the industry label their appliances. Competition keeps the system honest since cheaters are reported. Consumers and business create the demand for more and more efficient appliances. Started in the PC appliance area, Energy Star has expanded to all appliances (and buildings) and gone worldwide, even emerging countries like China have their program. Since I have personal experience with Energy Star, I can tell you the first few years were spent just meeting the minimum requirements, then beating the requirement became a competitive feature of products. Going above and beyond a standard is something that very rarely occurs with the command and regulate approach of Kyoto and taxes.
Energy Star is voluntary. Energy Star has no taxes to penalize industry or consumers. Energy Star has no large bureaucracy trying to control it. Energy Star even has the support of industry. No politician would attemp to kill it. And… I’ll bet 10 dollars to your 1 that it has done more for the environment than the entire Kyoto protocol.
Michael – Keep those slogans coming! Thanks.
Evan – Thanks for all the great ideas and resources. There is certainly is significant overlap between our interest in using a carbon tax to reduce CO2 emissions and the goals of the Set America Free Coalition. In fact, a carbon tax would be the best way to advance the Coalition’s goal of U.S. energy security. A carbon tax will provide a powerful economic incentive for energy efficiency, conservation, renewable energy as well the technological innovation described in the Coalition’s Blueprint for U.S. Energy Security. The Framework Institutes’s work on global warming is proprietary, unfortunately, but it sounds very interesting.
Looking at Public Agenda’s web site is another good idea. According to Public Agenda,
Thanks for the reference to Ann Applebaum’s Global Warming’s Simple Remedy. I’d seen it earlier and it’s already on our web site. Same for the National Journal’s new Congressional Insiders Poll. See the post from Charles on our blog page titled Congressional Climate Poll – Hold the Pessimism. The Brookings Institution’s Greening the Tax Code looks like an excellent resource which I’ll have to find time to read. Thanks also for the Volker cite. He’s right that " taxes either on emissions or on petroleum could be effective in reducing global warming" and his statement about the effect of a carbon tax on the economy is right on target:
And, finally, thanks for what you referred to as the old piece on framing climate change, which turns out to be a summary of what the Framework Institutes’s web site described as proprietary information.
Patrick – Charles asked you for your solution to the climate crisis solution and all you can offer is the Energy Star program? Energy Star is an excellent program which has resulted in real energy savings, but it doesn’t come close to producing the reductions in carbon emissions that are required. Voluntary programs such as Energy Star will not come close to delivering the necessary reductions in carbon emissions without the economic incentives provided by a carbon tax.
Sorry Dan, I have to disagree 100% with your belief in a carbon tax.
Taxes, even well meaning ones such as carbon taxes, are punitive. While people will adjust they energy use upon passing of a carbon tax, in the short term of a year or two, a carbon tax will penalize and harm the poor, the least able to adjust. A carbon tax, like any tax, will be be opposed, fought and dilluted over time. A carbon tax, no matter what the wonderful projections of social spending it will be used for, is a vast bucket of free $$ politicians will not be able to resist. Not only will it cause massive corruption, but funds will be bled off for every pet pork project as politicians seek to get re-elected. One has only to look at the windfalls wasted by state legislatures in the U.S. national cirgarette settlement, each and every state lottery program passed "for education only" in the U.S., and even the U.N. run Iraqi oil for food program. Taxes also create new and large bureaucracies that choke innovation as politicians attept to regulate and control the process. This last item is bad enough when it’s my country’s local tax officials. The idea of giving any such authority to control innovation or funds to the corrupt bureaucrats at the U.N. makes me shudder.
As for the Energy Star program, I never stated EnergyStar was sufficient to stop global warming, or even overall pollution. I do stand by my claim that voluntary programs like Energy Star have done more for the worldwide environment than the Kyoto protocol or any mandated programs like a carbon tax. I will happily choose any volunteer program over a tax. Voluntary programs encourage more innovation and overall savings. I just don’t see mandates and tax systems with the same track record.
Patrick – Your parade of horribles suggests that you haven’t read our proposal. While you envision a punitive tax that leads to a vast bucket of dollars to for politicians to misuse, our proposal is actually revenue neutral. Carbon cap revenues are offset by either progressive tax-shifting or a rebate to all Americans, similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund. Since the tax is revenue neutral, there is no vast bucket of dollars and there is nothing punitive about taxing pollution as opposed to work (carbon tax revenues would be used to reduce payroll taxes). Similarly, the poor will generally be protected by progressive tax-shifting or the rebate. To the extent more is needed, some funds could be used to help them use less energy. Take a look at Softening the Impact of Carbon Taxes on our Issues page.
A few weeks ago I posted a calm and
even toned message stating that ice core sample data all shows that
Carbon Dioxide concentrations FOLLOW temperature changes by some 500 to
1000 years. Science clearly shows that CO2 does not cause
warmingwarming causes more CO2. My post was deleted from your site. Is
this how you deal with valid scientific criticism? Deleting it from
your site? :
Stating that "science clearly shows that CO2 does not cause warming" is
not "valid scientific criticism," particularly in light of the United
Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released yesterday. See todays New York Times and the IPCCs summary of the report.
The socio-economic system of Marxists-Socialists-Liberals will always fail because intelligent, hard-working people are deprived of their reward, and dumb, lazy people are rewarded for their stupidity and laziness. Therefore, the intelligent, hard-working people stop working, and the dumb, lazy people won’t do anything, naturally, because they never work in any society
Camille Stephenson says