Scientists issue carbon price call to curb climate change

The UN is targeting 2 C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) for average global warming from pre-Industrial Revolution levels
The UN is targeting 2 C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) for average global warming from pre-Industrial Revolution levels

Academics and economists called Friday for a price on carbon and an end to fossil fuel subsidies to help curb rampant greenhouse gas emissions harming Earth's climate system.

Rather than an economic burden, such measures offered novel money-making opportunities that would also ensure a liveable planet for future generations, they concluded at a climate science conference in Paris.

But time for action was running out fast, and mankind's voracious burning of coal, oil and gas has not abated.

"A two-in-three probability of holding warming to two degrees Celsius or less will require (limiting) future to about 900 billion tonnes, roughly 20 times annual emissions in 2014," the nearly 2,000 experts from 100 countries said in an outcome statement.

Emissions should reach zero by century's end.

"Ambitious mitigation will require a range of actions, including investing in research, development and technology transfer; phasing out subsidies on fossil energy; and pricing carbon," the experts said.

The UN is targeting 2 C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) for average global warming from pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

It will be done with the help of nationally-determined emissions targets underpinning a world climate pact to be thrashed out at a November 30-December 11 UN conference in the French capital.

Switching from cheap and abundant , however, to from water, wind, the Sun and nuclear is costly in the short term, and politically-charged.

UN negotiations have drawled on for years, and scientists warn that on current emission trends the world is heading for warming of 4 C or more by 2100.

"The window for economically feasible solutions with a reasonable prospect of holding warming to 2 C or less is rapidly closing," said the conference statement.

One possible tool is carbon pricing, which imposes a cost on fossil fuels to encourage a shift to energy efficiency and cleaner sources.

The challenge of climate change
Graphic showing pledges made by countries to reduce carbon emissions, and those yet to make a pledge (135 x 111 mm)

It can take the form of a tax on pollution or a requirement to buy emissions permits, which can be traded.

Level the playing field

Proponents say it is an essential tool, but efforts in several countries to introduce a pricing system have largely failed.

Industry at first resisted, but last month six leading oil and gas companies said a carbon price would "reduce uncertainty" and stimulate low-carbon investments.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics and a professor at Columbia University in the United States, said current ambition for curbing emissions was not high enough, and a carbon price may provide the impetus needed.

But there would have to be enforcement, to ensure everybody was given the same treatment.

Countries which agree to work a into their economies could, for example, levy taxes on export products from nations with unrestrained emissions.

"The important thing about those cross-border taxes is that they change the political economy, they change the incentives," the economist said.

The cracked riverbed of the Amadorio reservoir is seen in Villajoyosa near Alicante where the water is far below usual levels du
The cracked riverbed of the Amadorio reservoir is seen in Villajoyosa near Alicante where the water is far below usual levels due to drought, on June 25, 2015

For governments outside the system, "effectively the carbon taxes are being collected by their trading partners."

But what the price should be, or how to set it, remain open questions, and it is unlikely that the world's nations would agree on a single mechanism.

One option was for governments themselves to decide whether to use a tax, trading scheme, or policy measures to put a price on carbon—whether "implicitly or explicitly", said French climate negotiator Laurence Tubiana.

The conference statement said global investments in energy would total trillions of dollars over the rest of the century.

"The additional investment required to transition to clean energy can be a small fraction of this amount," it said.

It also offers exciting opportunities, noted Stiglitz.

"The central problem facing the global economy is a lack of aggregate demand," he told delegates.

"This lack of demand is causing weak growth in the United States, near-stagnation in Europe, a slowdown in Asia. If we used the opportunity to retrofit the global economy to face the challenge of climate change it would stimulate the economy, it would improve and it would obviously increase employment," Stiglitz said.

"Creating a green economy is not only consistent with economic growth, actually it can promote economic growth."


Explore further

Six energy companies call for carbon pricing

© 2015 AFP

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Jul 10, 2015
Still eagerly "believing" and condemning our kids to the CO2 ovens after 34 years of climate action failure and global disbelief WILL make Bush look like an angle from heaven in the history books.
34 years of science's 97% certainty for the end of days was not a crime but telling children they were actually certain was not "progressive"or civilized.
Nice work Goregressiveism.
After 34 years of climate blame debate, Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.

Jul 10, 2015
Rather than an economic burden, such measures offered novel money-making opportunities


That is a blatant lie. People have to drive the same distance to work whether or not you tax them, you moron, and the distance to drive trucks and ships to move cargo is the same whether or not you tax them.

Of course a carbon tax is an economic burden.

Anyone who says otherwise is either an idiot or a liar.

Jul 10, 2015
Solar activity predicted to fall 60% in 2030s, to 'mini ice age' levels: Sun driven by double dynamo
http://www.scienc...2955.htm

Maybe we need to increase carbon burning, build up a store of heat in the ocean to act as a buffer for when the Sun goes to sleep?

Jul 11, 2015
It's really too bad the anti-science trolls clog every climate related post's comments section. What these people will do for a few bucks suggests a rather pathetic existence.

Jul 11, 2015
Rather than an economic burden, such measures offered novel money-making opportunities


That is a blatant lie. People have to drive the same distance to work whether or not you tax them, you moron, and the distance to drive trucks and ships to move cargo is the same whether or not you tax them.

Of course a carbon tax is an economic burden.

Anyone who says otherwise is either an idiot or a liar.


I agree, a carbon tax will just increase the cost of EVERYTHING again. The rich will get richer and the poor will be screwed over even harder.

Jul 11, 2015
"I agree, a carbon tax will just increase the cost of EVERYTHING again. The rich will get richer and the poor will be screwed over even harder."
---------------------------------------

Nope. Coal mines are owned by the rich and greedy, like Don Blankenship. What's he up to these days? Look him up.

Jul 11, 2015
Rather than an economic burden, such measures offered novel money-making opportunities


That is a blatant lie. People have to drive the same distance to work whether or not you tax them
Blatantly not. You can choose to live closer to work. I have done so, and have not owned or had other regular access to a car for 30 years, and it has not been a problem. A bicycle does the job.

the distance to drive trucks and ships to move cargo is the same whether or not you tax them.
Economists will tell you that if transport becomes more expensive, then goods that need less transport will become more competitive. and what's wrong with asking for the full price of transport to be paid, including pollution costs?

Of course a carbon tax is an economic burden.

Anyone who says otherwise is either an idiot or a liar.
It is possible to let a carbon tax replace other taxes, leaving the total bill the same. Then how would it be a burden?

Jul 11, 2015
What These Lazy Copy and Paste News Editors at Phys.org Never Tell You;

We have not had a *smog warning day in over 10 years!
Yes, our air is clean!
*Those scary "Alerts", "Advisories", "Watches" and "Be Kind to Air Days" that the media loves to fear monger us with are only predictions that smog "could" be measured within the next 36 hours and not measurements of smog at all.

Jul 11, 2015
Blatantly not. You can choose to live closer to work. I have done so, and have not owned or had other regular access to a car for 30 years, and it has not been a problem. A bicycle does the job.

Hmm... the extra food you must eat for the calories to ride that bike, do they magically appear on your plate?
You obviously haven't spent a thought on how much CO2 is emitted in producing, processing and transporting that food to you.

Jul 11, 2015
Solar activity predicted to fall 60% in 2030s, to 'mini ice age' levels: Sun driven by double dynamo


I wonder if AGW models take that into account .

Jul 13, 2015
Emissions should reach zero by century's end.

Seems doable. Some heavily industrailized nations are targetting 50% by mid century.

Switching from cheap and abundant fossil fuels,

Abubdant? Really? Especially once the developing nations catch up?
And where abundance is not a given (and demand is only set to rise) this doesn't bode well for 'cheap', either.

UN negotiations have drawled on for years,

So it's time for unilateral action. There are more arguments for renewables besides just global warming:
- you get to be indpendent of oil producing countries (and what they can do should be clear - remember when the barrel oil cost 130$? That did hit a lot of economies.)
- you decrease international tensions (because everyone is buying oil from the same sources)
- the health of your population is increased (Not on any politician's list. No money or power to be gained from health voters. Sick voters area pushover, though)
- creates long-term jobs

Jul 13, 2015
Hmm... the extra food you must eat for the calories to ride that bike, do they magically appear on your plate?
No, but then, I don't drive to the gym to burn those calories there. The energy needed to make the bikes I rode over those 30 years is a lot less than what would have been needed to make cars instead. Also, I don't eat meat, making my diet a lot less carbon intensive. These days a reasonable proportion of my calories come from a community agriculture scheme. It's organic, reducing energy needed to make fertiliser, and I go there by bike to fetch the stuff, further reducing the fuel needed to transport the food. Then cyclists tend to need less health care, and the equipment and treatments used in modern medicine also take energy to produce.

You obviously haven't spent a thought on how much CO2 is emitted in producing, processing and transporting that food to you.
You should be more careful with what you call obvious.

Jul 13, 2015
"I agree, a carbon tax will just increase the cost of EVERYTHING again. The rich will get richer and the poor will be screwed over even harder."
---------------------------------------

Nope. Coal mines are owned by the rich and greedy, like Don Blankenship. What's he up to these days? Look him up.


A carbon tax won't just be on coal mine but on all fuels. You know they stuff they use to deliver your foods and everything else to your local stores? That means the prices on all that stuff will go up to pay for for those extra costs as the transportation people have to make a living too.

Jul 13, 2015
@ Sigh... yea I ride a bike for my transportation too but we are a small minority of the people out there and even then you can only get locally what will grow locally. Everything else gets trucked.

Jul 13, 2015
Hi 24volts (& gkam). :)
I agree, a carbon tax will just increase the cost of EVERYTHING again. The rich will get richer and the poor will be screwed over even harder
Nope. Coal mines are owned by the rich and greedy, like Don Blankenship. What's he up to these days? Look him up.
A carbon tax won't just be on coal mine but on all fuels. You know they stuff they use to deliver your foods and everything else to your local stores?
24volts, previous Carbon Tax Proceeds in OZ went to compensate consumers/needy for transport/utility costs impact. It STARKLY highlighted REAL CONSUMER/SOCIETY COST 'price signal' for fossil/nuclear industry, so costs/feasibility of green alternatives could be stacked up against fossil/nuclear, and subisiies/efforts re-allocated accordingly. Our current PM is a real conservative ignoramus ideologue bent on destroying the green industries that will provide the energy/jobs we need. Our [P]erfect [M]oron, Tony Abbot, is a wrecking twit.

Jul 13, 2015
Hummm institute a carbon tax and use it to pay climate researchers. I can't see a conflict of interest there can you?

Jul 13, 2015
Hi MR166. :)
Hummm institute a carbon tax and use it to pay climate researchers. I can't see a conflict of interest there can you?
Give it a minute, and even you yourself will see how silly-biased such a comment is, mate. :)

Climate Science was funded for many decades for local/global weather, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture etc etc benefits reasons; long before all this became a political football for the GOP and other interests.

Compensation for OZ Carbon Tax went to consumers/needy.

Funding for climate science/scientists etc has always been a separate matter involving its own merits/sources of funding from many quarters depending on sectors/govts most affected irrespective of the causes/drivers of climate change etc.

Please, mate, try to keep to reason and facts instead of whatever it is that drives you to make such obviously uninformed comments/takes on the serious matters before us all as a humanity in the same global boat in all this. Thanks. :)

Jul 14, 2015
@ Sigh... yea I ride a bike for my transportation too but we are a small minority of the people out there and even then you can only get locally what will grow locally. Everything else gets trucked.
Sure, but if we all insist on acting only when each individual act has large consequences, then very little will ever get done. There are three simple things that will greatly reduce the individual emissions of someone living in a rich country: don't fly, don't drive, don't eat meat. Occasionally it may not be easy, such as when raising children in a city built around the car, but it is simple. And often enough it is easy in that it just takes a little self restraint. So set an example and hope for a snowball effect. No single person was ever able to abolish slavery, and very few had opportunity to make a significant difference, but those who did only succeeded with the support of people who each made an immeasurably small difference. Today slavery is illegal worldwide.

Jul 27, 2015
@Sigh If it was up to me the world would be running on solar, wave and geothermal energy. The only sources we can't run out of and probably wouldn't affect the weather. Petroleum has far better uses in chemistry that burning in engines of whatever sort. I can only do what I can though.

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