Climate Compass Blog
With the idea of a carbon tax starting to get more attention in Washington, word now comes from Beijing that the Chinese government is thinking seriously about putting the idea into practice.
A senior official from China’s Ministry of Finance recently described plans for a national carbon tax as part of a new package of environmental protection taxes. The new package, which would replace existing pollution discharge fees, would also include taxes to encourage conservation of coal and water.
Last year’s extreme drought, wildfires and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy have driven home the high economic costs associated with extreme weather. The increasing frequency and intensity of such events make it clear that climate change presents a real and present danger. It no longer can be dismissed as a problem only of concern to our children or grandchildren.
This increased urgency has also caused an important shift in our understanding of what actions are required to slow the rate of climate change. Recent studies have focused on the need for a two-pronged approach. Reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, some portion of which stays in the atmosphere for centuries, is critical to long-term efforts. But curbing greenhouse gases with shorter atmospheric lifetimes will have significant near-term climate and public health benefits.
Hurricane Sandy inflicted tremendous damage on New York’s coastal communities. The threat of more intense, more frequent storms driven by climate change has led Gov. Andrew Cuomo to propose limiting development in vulnerable locations. Just as Sandy provided a preview of future climate risks, the governor’s proposal may offer an example of one effective response.
The nine states in the northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative took an important step this month that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase funding for energy efficiency and clean energy without unduly burdening businesses or consumers. That step was to adjust their cap-and-trade program by tightening the emissions cap and increasing compliance flexibility for businesses.
I recently replied to a question on the National Journal blog on sizing up President Obama's State of the Union speech
You can read responses at the National Journal.
Here is my response: When Congress failed to enact the climate bill in 2010, many longtime climate action advocates responded by falling silent on climate change. “Too polarizing,” they said. “When we talk about climate change, the skeptics attack climate science, the press reports he-said-she-said, and all the public hears is a muddle. Let’s talk about green jobs and air pollution instead.”