UN climate report: Pricing of CO2 emissions critical

Apr 04, 2014
This is Thomas Sterner, professor of environmental economics at the University of Gothenburg. Credit: University of Gothenburg

Despite climate change, most polluters still pay little or nothing when they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

'A cost USD 0.15 per kilo CO2 would be enough to solve the whole problem,' says Thomas Sterner, professor of environmental economics at the University of Gothenburg. Sterner is the only Swedish researcher to serve as a coordinating lead author of a new report that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will present next week.

The third part of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fifth assessment report, Working Group III on the technical and socio-economic aspects of climate change concerns measures to reduce or eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases. The report covers the most important economic sectors – energy, transport, construction, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management.

Compared with the last assessment in 2007, many countries now have ministries in charge of climate issues. Numerous measures to combat climate change have also been introduced, many of which the authors of the report have been able to evaluate. The scientists' summary for politicians will be finalised and presented in Berlin next week.

'We have explored the new policy instruments introduced around the World. Some of my colleagues have felt very enthusiastic – rather like botanists discovering new species. I am not equally optimistic because most of the new instruments are too weak to be meaningful. What we need to avoid dangerous climate change is the application of strong policy instruments,' says Sterner.

One potentially strong measure policy instrument according to the report is to make emitters of CO2 pay a price in relation to the amount emitted – but it all hinges on this price being sufficiently high. In most countries, there is virtually no cost to emitting CO2 and other . At the same time, studies from for example the International Energy Agency show that if a sufficiently high emission tax of SEK 1 (about USD 0.15) per kilo CO2 (or an equivalent permit trading scheme) were introduced in all sectors across the world, the total emissions could be reduced by half by 2050. The difficulty, however, lies in establishing sufficiently strong international agreements.

Another effective intervention identified in the report is to stimulate research on new technologies. One dilemma, says Sterner, is that companies know they will have problems patenting new environmentally friendly technologies. This realisation of course affects their motivation negatively, implying that they will not do enough research and therefore there is a need also for state-funded research.

Today, CO2 taxes are relatively unusual being limited mainly to a few countries in northern Europe. Sectoral taxes – on transport fuels are more common and have been shown to have very significant effects. On the other hand, many countries are in fact still subsidising fossil fuels. Sterner says that one important policy instrument would be to remove these subsidies. The measures discussed in the report also include voluntary agreements.

'I really don't believe in voluntary measures since they imply letting business and industry do as they please. Overall, I feel that our report may come across as too modest compared with the report from Working Group I, which was presented last autumn and described the climate situation in the world as catastrophic. But there are indeed real opportunities to limit the emissions,' says Sterner.

Explore further: Meeting climate targets may require reducing meat and dairy consumption

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freeiam
2.1 / 5 (11) Apr 04, 2014
CO2 is no pollutant as stated by the summary shown in the link.
This is very suggestive and factually incorrect.
Strange that one solution (and easily the best) to reduce CO2 emission is never mentioned.
It would also solve the most important problem we have (by far) of which 'climate chance' is an unwanted distractor, and that's loss of habitat of animals and the ruin of nature.
7,5 billion people should be reduced to 1 and our way of living should be environmentally friendly and not driven by the pseudo science economics (and based on expansion).
ryggesogn2
2.1 / 5 (11) Apr 04, 2014
Who gets the tax revenue?
cjn
2.3 / 5 (11) Apr 04, 2014
Look, just give me the $0.15 per Kg of CO2, and I'll take care of the problem. If the climate is still an issue in 50 years, you're welcome to come and take whats left from my estate.
cjn
2.1 / 5 (11) Apr 04, 2014
But really, who doesn't see that this is a racket? Its government-sponsored extortion. Its not like this money will actually be used for something of benefit -say, reducing payroll taxes, paying down the national debt, or shoring up medicare; its only going to be funneled to the monied-elite through business "credits", market manipulation, and forced consumption.
Modernmystic
2.7 / 5 (7) Apr 04, 2014
Another scheme which has no hope in hell of actually working. This is politics pure and simple. The answer is to produce MORE power without the emissions. You're NEVER going to get there with a carbon tax or simple policy. This is not a policy issue, it's a technological issue.
Scott_L
2.4 / 5 (7) Apr 04, 2014
7,5 billion people should be reduced to 1 and our way of living should be environmentally friendly and not driven by the pseudo science economics (and based on expansion).


Brilliant plan, friend, absolutely brilliant. Your plan needs a name that emphasizes that it will solve all our environmental issues. I humbly suggest "The Final Solution to the Climate Change Problem."
orti
2 / 5 (8) Apr 04, 2014
Here is what it is all about – the power to tax and regulate. And taxes are always passed on to the consumer (that would be you). And who gets the revenue? Bigger and bigger government. And money is power, and what does power do? You know, corrupt. What will you do about it? Sorry, you don't count; we disposed of those old ideas in the beginning of the 21st century (with the CAGW ruse).
aksdad
2.1 / 5 (7) Apr 04, 2014
Until the benefits of increased atmospheric CO2 are also incorporated into the equation, any CO2 "social cost" or tax is a meaningless made-up number that expresses nothing more than the zeal of anti-CO2 acolytes.

The science indicates doubling CO2 saturation will cause global temperatures to increase 1 C. That means, for example, doubling pre-industrial CO2 from 280 ppm, around the year 1850, to 560 ppm around the year 2095 (at the current rate), would result in a global temperature about 1 C warmer than the average from 1850-1900. Since we're already about 0.7 to 0.8 warmer, that would mean an additional 0.2 to 0.3 of warming. That's without any "feedbacks" that accelerate warming.

Global climate models factor in estimated feedbacks to produce higher temperatures, but based on observations it appears they've overestimated the feedbacks.

CO2 appears to have much less impact on warming than alarmists suggest. Taxing it would have almost no effect on warming.
Benni
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 05, 2014
Would we really expect the vaunted professor Tom Sterner to come up with an idea to actually fix what he is complaining about? What the hell is a "Professor of Environmental Economics"?

Hey there Tombo, Russia has invaded Ukraine not far from your part of the world, you need to hustle right over there & find a way to raise taxes on those two countries so you can have some real peace & properity? Actually you need learn how freedom from economic & military tyranny is the best path to prosperity.

Tombo, just maybe with your vaunted position in environmental economics you can show us how any country has ever taxed its' way into prosperity & freedom? Here in the U.S. in the year 1776 we kicked you Europeans off our continent because of the stupid ideas endemic to the European ruling class concept of economics, you know Tombo, "take (tax) from the poor & give it to the rich European kings & queens ". Yeah, we had a real Tea Party then & you probably think it was stupid that we won.
freeiam
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 05, 2014
Brilliant plan, friend, absolutely brilliant. Your plan needs a name that emphasizes that it will solve all our environmental issues. I humbly suggest "The Final Solution to the Climate Change Problem."

In fact it is brilliant, instead of focusing on reducing emissions we should be focusing on reducing the wold population and stop being fixated by 'economics of growth' but instead focus on living in a sustainable way. A billion people is more than enough to sustain every scientific and social endeavor within the human spectrum and will leave room for all other species and natural environment.
I'm sure you like to be sarcastic about this, but it is a lot more sensible to strive for a world you want to live in than to go after a secondary goal like CO2 reduction and end up with a barren world totally polluted with every one 'living' in concrete skyscrapers (read Stand on Zanzibar) and no animal in sight.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (7) Apr 05, 2014
In fact it is brilliant, instead of focusing on reducing emissions we should be focusing on reducing the wold population and stop being fixated by 'economics of growth' but instead focus on living in a sustainable way.

But this requires the innovation and intelligence and economic prosperity of billions of people.
What's more important, killing people and having them live in mud huts or enabling more brains that will lead to living in a sustainable and prosperous way.
osnova
Apr 05, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
WeatherRusty
4.9 / 5 (7) Apr 05, 2014
Currently industry is allowed to use the atmosphere and oceans as free garbage dumps for their waste produces. One of being CO2. To bring proper pricing to fossil fuel use the entirety of it's true cost should be reflected in the price to to bringing the fuels to market. The tax could go towards refunding consumers and subsidizing renewable energy technologies. This is meant to be a way to jump start the clean energy revolution.
freeiam
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 05, 2014
[
But this requires the innovation and intelligence and economic prosperity of billions of people.
What's more important, killing people and having them live in mud huts or enabling more brains that will lead to living in a sustainable and prosperous way.

Mud huts and killing? Who's talking about that?
Living in sustainable way is probably high tech and can be luxurious. Reduction of the world population is of course long term and consist of more awareness about the devastating effect overpopulation has on the environment and living space of other animals. Instead of having 2 children you choose only one or none, that's the best ecological choice.
Brainpower isn't scarce at the moment and I'm not worried about that, it's the focus that's wrong and should be corrected.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (7) Apr 05, 2014
"Despite climate change, most polluters still pay little or nothing when they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

BULLS***T ALERT!! BULLS***T ALERT!!

Phys.drivel - an (agw) whore unlike any other...a whore's whore!
Maggnus
5 / 5 (5) Apr 05, 2014
The science indicates doubling CO2 saturation will cause global temperatures to increase 1 C. That means, for example, doubling pre-industrial CO2 from 280 ppm, around the year 1850, to 560 ppm around the year 2095 (at the current rate), would result in a global temperature about 1 C warmer than the average from 1850-1900


Wow how can you get it so wrong, except on purpose?

http://blogs.agu....ble-co2/
http://en.wikiped...sitivity
http://www.climat...l-levels
Maggnus
5 / 5 (5) Apr 05, 2014
"Despite climate change, most polluters still pay little or nothing when they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

BULLS***T ALERT!! BULLS***T ALERT!!

Phys.drivel - an (agw) whore unlike any other...a whore's whore!
Bulls now? What about the deer? And the owls? And rats? How are the bulls connected to the deer? Is it something to do with the owls? The bulls and rats were introduced to North America by humans - is that what your on about? That we should return the bulls and rats to Europe so the spotted owl can have it's old habitat back? Doesn't that seem extreme to you? What if Europe doesn't want the bulls back? Or the rats? Well I imagine they don't really want the rats, maybe we can send them to Norway? That's near the Arctic - is that where you want to send the bulls too? Don't they have deer in Norway?

Scooter, you are getting awfully confusing the way you keep complaining about deer!
Howhot
5 / 5 (5) Apr 06, 2014
Great links Maggnus. I hadn't read this one, but it's was really good and worth repeating.

http://www.climat...l-levels

There really should be a mechanism to force polluters to compensate the populace as well as compensate for the damage to the environment, ecosystems and wildlife. 15 cents/kilo of CO2 seems pretty fair.
Benni
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 06, 2014
There really should be a mechanism to force polluters to compensate the populace as well as compensate for the damage to the environment, ecosystems and wildlife. 15 cents/kilo of CO2 seems pretty fair.


........and how does taxing an activity fix whatever your complaint is about that activity?

Tomorrow you go to the doctor & you're diagnosed with cancer, the doctor sends notice to the Internal Revenue Service recommending your income taxes be raised. Why? Well, If you have less income you will have reduced capability to sustain the lifestyle that gave you cancer in the first place, so, rather than allowing you to divert a portion of your income to treat your cancer, the government takes it & spends it on pay raises for themselves.