Dipping A Toe In

Despite my spidey sense tingling like crazy and that little voice in my head saying, “Leave this one alone” my curiosity and a genuine heartfelt desire to educate myself on a topic I feel limited in, I’m going to throw out another climate change post, but from the position that I would like input from those so called experts for my on benefit.

First a disclaimer, I have no science background and 8 times out of 10 whenever the subject is brought up, it comes from a position of certitude so off putting (the science is settled so get with the program) or it is espoused by those so radical/tyrannical (anyone that denies climate change should be jailed) that my immediate reaction is to change the channel. I admit I must resist the urge to tune out, thus this post.

There is a group of Republicans that formed to address the seriousness of climate change, The Climate Leadership Council. Here is their mission statement;

Mounting evidence of climate change is growing too
strong to ignore. While the extent to which climate change
is due to man-made causes can be questioned, the risks
associated with future warming are too big and should be
hedged. At least we need an insurance policy. For too long,
many Republicans have looked the other way, forfeiting
the policy initiative to those who favor growth-inhibiting
command-and-control regulations, and fostering a needless
climate divide between the GOP and the scientific, business,
military, religious, civic and international mainstream.
Now that the Republican Party controls the White House and
Congress, it has the opportunity and responsibility to promote
a climate plan that showcases the full power of enduring
conservative convictions. Any climate solution should be based
on sound economic analysis and embody the principles of free
markets and limited government. As this paper argues, such
a plan could strengthen our economy, benefit working-class
Americans, reduce regulations, protect our natural heritage and
consolidate a new era of Republican leadership. These benefits
accrue regardless of one’s views on climate science


What clued me on to these guys was a WSJ article I read this morning. It is a short piece, easily readable.

I would appreciate Stogy, CM, Hal, and Alex to comment on it from a position of;

Does this make sense to you?
Does it go far enough?
Do you think they have a proper handle of the situation?
Can capitalism/free trade exist in a world where climate change is seriously addressed?

Any other readers who feel compelled to comment is also appreciated.

Naturally I think any “carbon taxes/carbon dividend” steps can only be addressed after real meaningful tax reform, lowering the corporate tax rate and providing tax incentives to facilitate bringing back home the trillions out there overseas.

OK, let me have it.

Comments are closed.

  1. Hal_10000

    Does this make sense to you?

    Absolutely. This is one of the reason I argue so vociferously on the reality of AGW on conservative and libertarian blogs. Because liberals tend to be crap with solutions to real problems.

    Does it go far enough?

    It’s a good first step.  A carbon tax is easy to tune as the science indicates how damaging CO2 is.  It essentially puts a cost into carbon that is currently not being included. I would like us to redirect our research efforts into more basic research and ground-breaking science, rather than applied science.  We also badly need regulatory reform.

    Do you think they have a proper handle of the situation?


    Can capitalism/free trade exist in a world where climate change is serious addressed?

    Not only can it, it must.  Command and control economics is the worst way to address climate change.  Let me put it this way.  If we impose all kinds of controls on the economy and slow it down, we will not ever make the scientific and commercial breakthroughs we need to get away from carbon fuels.  It’s just a slower slide to doomsday. A robust private sector, however, means faster breakthroughs and faster marketing of those breakthroughs.  So while we will burn more carbon in the short run, we’ll benefit in the long run.

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  2. West Virginia Rebel

    I just don’t know about a tax. This is the first thing liberals want in dealing with climate change. Innovation and new technology would be a better way to go. Definitely fewer regulations to encourage that innovation.

    Also, it looks like Gorsuch isn’t totally on board with what Trump said about the judges opposed to his immigration order.

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  3. richtaylor365 *

    I just don’t know about a tax. This is the first thing liberals want in dealing with climate change. 

    But if the application of that tax can be across the board, offset initially by the corporate rate cut, gradually structured to provide incentives, applied so that profits can still be made (and increased while reducing their carbon footprint at the same time), and those tax receipts going to individual families (like any other tax credit), I think this could work. Even rich capitalists  care about the planet, as long as they can keep making money in the process.

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  4. stogy

    Thanks for putting this question up. By and large, I agree with Hal on many points. It might surprise you, but I really really welcome Conservative efforts on climate change, mainly because I think they are more likely to be successful. One reason for this is that any attempt by the Democrats to introduce legislation will automatically be attacked and blocked by Republicans, but any reasonable attempt by Republicans to tackle climate change is likely to attract significant support from Dems.

    I also strongly acknowledge the role that the tea party has had in forcing state governments to reduce restrictions on PV solar, and on sales to the grid. From what I hear, conservatives are more likely than liberals to have PV installed. They have formed unlikely coalitions with Greens in a couple of states, and forced governments to reduce barriers to rooftop PV. They have done it for different reasons (energy independence and breaking up energy monopolies) but the results are the same: a freer energy market, less reliance on fossil fuels, less carbon pollution.

    In terms of capitalism, I also agree with Hal that they are compatible. However, I would perhaps differ from him on one major point. At the moment, our capitalist system passes on a lot of the costs of business on to uncounted externalities – social costs such as health, and the environment. This essentially a “privatize the gains, socialize the losses” model, where taxpayers and the environment pick up many of the costs of doing business. For example, for a coal fired power utility, it makes most sense to maximize profits by storing coal ash in unsealed tanks, but when these overflow or leak into the groundwater, fishermen downstream have to pick up the tab, or kids in a neighboring town by drinking polluted water, or a loss of nearby farmland or something else, perhaps 20 or 50 years down the track.

    The same applies to CO2 emissions:  a carbon tax is one way of incorporating those “costs” back into the system – they are a better reflection of the cost of doing business. Essentially, companies are paying for the damage they cause, and are more likely to be incentivized to reduce those costs. A carbon tax is simple, can be phased in, and as you say, it can be handed back through the tax system to those most affected. Or to companies. The point is, the incentive is there. Even were climate change not happening, the other environmental effects from mining on health of communities, effects on the environment, and on other people’s livelihoods make this a very good idea. There is also no economic case for nuclear: it’s way too expensive and requires huge direct and hidden subsidies. Again, winners and losers.

    I was in Australia recently and I read up on how the conservative government there is paying big polluters directly to reduce carbon emissions. It’s a clusterfuck of bad policy, wasted money, and government choosing winners and losers. They got rid of a carbon tax that was working very effectively  to reduce emissions and was supported by the left-wing Labor government. Every economist in the land says it is a failure, and everything they said would go wrong has gone wrong. But the party in power has so cornered itself into a policy position that billions in taxpayer dollars is being wasted on nothing much at all. Now they are talking about building new coal-fired power stations that will cost double what renewables would cost, using massive government subsidies.  The left-wing opposition wants a market-based solution, the right wing government is happy to pay polluters.

    I am really hoping that more Republicans can be persuaded to accept the science on global warming, and to introduce smart, forward thinking policies. The big challenge is to break the hold that the fossil fuel industry has through corporate donations – Senators Lamar Smith and James Inhofe being particularly bad.

    So my answer is: let the market decide, but do it in a way that more accurately incorporates the cost of business. Price alone will ensure that renewables will win easily.



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  5. richtaylor365 *

    While checking in on responses this morning on my tablet I noticed that my WSJ link required subscription log in. For those not subscribers, you can access the short article here.

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  6. AlexInCT

    Rich, any solution that relies on “economics” instead of technology is doomed, and indicates clearly to me that this is definitely not a problem of any kind these people are actually trying to solve.

    I will leave it at that  after pointing out that the plaent is coming out of an ice age.

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  7. CM

    I don’t have much to add to what Hal and stogy said. I’ve always thought that private enterprise had a major role to play and have always been disappointed that so many US conservatives refuse to join the table so that they can help determine how best to face this challenge. Of COURSE the left will get their way if the right are still on their hands and knees throwing a tantrum because the evidence is so hard for them to deal with. My big issue has always been HOW to get private enterprise to be part if the solution rather than part of the problem. I’ve long pointed out that we’ve all been massively subsidising polluters, and those who otherwise make the problem worse, since the Industrial Revolution. It’s a perfect example of chronic market failure. Why would those whom claim to be market devotees fight tooth and nail to protect and celebrate that failure? That’s why it’s a childish tantrum – there is no logic or reason behind it. So that’s great to see some leadership on this issue from the right, rather than supporting and advancing chronic misinformation, paranoia and making baseless accusations against a huge number of professionals (which seems to have been the main approach for the last decade or so). Will be intereating to see the details and the opinions of people far more intelligent and educated than me.

    Coming out of an ice age still doesn’t get you around the speed of change and the fact that we can literally see our fingerprints on the reason for that speed. Also, we’re not.

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  8. CM

    CM, what’s the situation in NZ at the moment? You have a conservative-leaning government?

    Yep, and as you’d expect they’re doing as little as they can get away with. There is an Emissions Trading Scheme which is a waste of time because pastoral agriculture (46% of all emissions) are not part of it. Those responsible for the emissions don’t have to foot the bill. Can’t upset that core constituency – the National Party rely heavily on the farmers to balance out all the city liberals. As the co-leader of the Greens said: “This is the sort of emissions trading scheme you have when you still think climate change is a hoax” and it’s “the biggest wealth transfer in New Zealand history from the taxpayer to the big polluters”.

    In short, it’s embarrassing. Especially as in world affairs/issues we like to pride ourselves on doing ‘the right thing’ and ‘punching above our weight’. Instead we essentially just keep slipping in the by-products of all that pastoral agriculture….

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