Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back on the Carbon Trail

I’ve started working on a project related to the Western Climate Initiative, a process underway between seven US states and two Canadian provinces to put this scenic portion of the planet on a carbon budget. Because of this, I’ll be posting more frequently on topics related to climate change and how to limit it. Right now, I’m thinking of the decision to commit the WCI as a whole to auctioning only a portion, between 25 and 75%, of the carbon permits they intend to issue, distributing the rest gratis. Isn’t it generous to be handing out free money to the most polluting businesses?

Of course, it’s difficult for the general public to see just what’s going on. To remedy this, I propose the following: auction all the permits. Then take some of the money, between 75 and 25%, and deliver it to the doorstep of firms that emitted the most carbon in the past, preferably in suitcases with unmarked bills.

Maybe if you put the whole operation on YouTube people would get the point.


Sandwichman said...

I confess I emit lots of carbon dioxide. Please send one of those suitcases.

Peter Dorman said...

Do you really emit a lot of methane or are you just trying to pass?

Bruce Webb said...

No one I know advocates resorting to 30's style Soviet command and control but what is the problem with some 70's style regulation? I don't remember the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act coming with baskets of cash. There may have been a tax credit here or there but it seemed the general thrust was "Clean it up or else"

I find it perplexing that even self-styled progressives who in some cases are not afraid to claim the label 'socialist' have simply turned their backs on the legacy of the New Deal and instead seem to have internalized Reaganism. It is manifestly NOT the case that markets regulate themselves always and everywhere better than governments do. Why not adopt strict standards and and then simply enforce them. Industry will while and talk about jobs and pretend it is not actually about profits anyway.

The conception that the only two possible approaches are to punish consumers (carbon tax) or incentizing producers (cap and trade) is just to build a weird bias for market solutions at the center of the argument. Uncle Miltie is dead and gone, there is no reason why we have to operate within a frame of his devise. Yet here we are.

Shag from Brookline said...

Back in the 1960s, I served on a Board of Directors that included two professors at the Harvard Business School. In the course of chit-chat just before a Board meeting at their school, one of them told the story of awful odors in the School's buildings along the quite scenic Boston side of the Charles River. After investigation, it was determined that methane was seeping into the building, apparently generating from the burial of animal hides at the site in colonial years when nearby Brighton abattoirs utilized the Charles River for disposal purposes. This prompted my inquiry whether the faculty may have added to the problem. (Keep in mind that Harvard Business School trained our first MBA President.)