Saturday, November 20, 2010

Climate Change 2010: Plan B

It was always a long shot, but 2010 was when we knew that plan A for greenhouse gas management had failed.

Plan A was Europe, China and the US agreeing to limit CO2 emissions and then extending that agreement to India and every other country that mattered.

Plan A might be known as Plan Gore, because Al Gore was a leading exponent. His personal life went down in flames around the time Plan A died. Plan A was always a longshot, but it was stone dead when the ailing US economy flatlined at the end of the Bush II. The Great Recession killed Plan A, but it also dramatically reduced world greenhouse gas emissions. So maybe it was a bit of a wash.

So what's next? Plan A isn't coming back any time soon. Europe's economy is on the ropes. China is fragile and facing history's greatest economic bubble. The US economy is tottering along, but the GOP thinks a dead America is better than America cheatin' with Obama.

Yes, it does seem a bit bleak. On the other hand, even if Gore had won in 2000 it would have been hard to equal the greenhouse gas decreases of the past three years of economic misery. I can even imagine, if the GOP won it all, that Plan A might return. Only Nixon could go to China, and in the US only the Crazy Party can manage the fear filled right.

In the meantime, there's Plan B.

How could Plan B work?

Well, we know where we need to go. We need a worldwide Carbon Tax and a Carbon Tariff (CT2). The Carbon Tax is obvious. The Carbon Tariff is how nations manage cheaters -- other nations that don't play along.

With CT2 everything else plays out. We get investments in energy conservation technologies, we get energy conservation directly, and we get investments in every conceivable form of low carbon energy production technology. CT2 also brings in a boat load of revenue, which each nation may use as it sees fit. Some may offset other consumption taxes (ex: VAT), others may subsidize transit or invest in energy research.

We know where we need to go to CT2, but how do we get there? Most of all, how do we break the WTO rules that would block Carbon Tariffs?

What if a small nation, like the Maldives for example, started by introducing CT2 locally -- with rates that seem right for a global regime? Then the Scandinavians sign on. The big one next one is the EU. After that it gets harder. Canada, Australia, the US and China are all going to hold out. I'm guessing the next big ones would be India, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.

The US, Canada and Australia go next.

China goes last.

That's Plan B.

See also:

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