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If only $40.00 per ton actually meant something. The only way to arrest climate change is to eliminate emissions entirely. So adding the rough equivalent of $0.20 per gallon of fuel is supposed to accomplish what exactly? In the near term it puts a tiny crimp on productivity and has a slightly regressive impact on consumers. Shipping costs go up, the cost of fertilizer goes up (unless there's an exception there to keep food prices stable), the cost of personal transport goes up etc. And at least for now the alternatives are truly less productive; (drive an electric car too far, not only do you have to wait for AAA to tow you back to a charging station, you then have to wait a significant amount of time to charge and make the car drivable again), and there are no substitutes for fertilizer, and none for concrete, nor do we know how to make steel without fossil (and oh by the way, we need all those building materials to construct alternative energy systems, so does it make sense in the short run to make these things more expensive?). Seems to me carbon taxes amount to a recipe for a modest but still significant form of underlying stagflation. Energy prices up, alternatives limited or non-existent, a drag on employment, real income and tax receipts. The only thing that will really work is to produce the productive, non-carbon substitutes we really need, and encourage their deployment as rapidly as possible to displace the need for fossil fuels. In other words, make fossil worthless, rather than trying to police prohibition. Anything less is simply nudging the 2C timeframe one way or the other by a matter of years (in geological terms, by far less than a rounding error), and though this keeps diplomats' and economists' minds whirring, I don't think it amounts to a puff of smoke on a windy day in terms of solving the crisis that is carbon emissions.
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Feb 8, 2017