Last month I gave an Ignite talk at the HUB Seattle about carbon taxation. There are many market-based ways to help us dramatically curb carbon emissions and a carbon tax is just one of them. The real goal of the plan I discuss in the video below is to raise revenue for Washington State that can be invested in new transportation infrastructure and funding business-friendly tax reform; it has the added benefit of creating a more honest cost for CO2 emissions. We can’t wait for the Federal Government to move on a major plan to cut carbon emissions. The United States has consistently been the chief obstructor to meaningful action at the UN Climate Summit and this year was no exception. Toughening up CAFE standards is a good start, but such a response has no chance of lowering emissions fast enough to help arrest the runaway climate change which is already occurring.
Like I said last week, we’re all guilty of hypocrisy when it comes to the split incentive of carbon energy. We love the modern conveniences that it offers but are loathe to experience the long-term consequences of dirty, climate changing emissions. Assessing a more realistic cost —a cost simliar to what the rest of the world pays— moves us in the right direction. We’ll all be paying more to internalize the true cost of carbon energy and in the longterm, it’s one of our best chances to make a speedy transition to a carbon-free economy. True cost accounting ya’ll, that’s our first step towards a realistic long-term energy plan.
Last week I wrote about the World Bank’s recent climate report, which concluded we’re on track for a 4° C temperature increase before the end of the century. We’ve already raised the temperature of our one precious Earth more than 1° C and we have begun to experience the consequences: profound melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets; escalating sea level rise; prolonged droughts and wildfires; crop failures and food shortages; frequent huge rain and snow storms; an elongated hurricane season; ecosystem collapses; massive migrations due to food and water shortages; disease outbreaks in the aftermath of megastorms; and plummeting air quality, especially in the developing world. This is just a short list of consequences from a 1° C temperature increase. Still we do nothing.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference is wrapping up in Doha, Qatar this week. The COP18 Conference is ironically located, being that Qatar has the highest per-capita emissions of any county on Earth and they basically operate a one sector economy. A door prize to the first person who can guess which sector I’m referring to! The eighteenth UN conference on climate change comes on the heels of another wonderful report, this time from the Global Carbon Project (a joint venture of the Department of Energy and the Norwegian Research Council), which has measured a 3% increase in heat-trapping emissions in 2012. Almost all the attendee-nations in Doha agree that this number should be going down, not up. Yet, nobody is seriously expecting any forward progress to come out of COP18; the reasoning behind that collective apathy is beyond me to understand. Have we just given up? How could participants announce such a surrender, or worse, how could the United States actively work against a collective agreement? Disruptive climate change has never been more obvious to the naked eye. For decades scientists told us it was some far-off event that will impact future generations. But right now, today, we are beginning to experience our Earth’s wrath in real-time.
For more on the World Bank Report, please watch the following interview with the report’s chief author Bill Hare. Brought to you by Democracy Now: