read and write

I told you that a sound economic policy to mitigate climate change required setting an (implicit) price for carbon. The following article explains some of the technical challenges to figuring out how high this price should be.

Biden administration puts a price on carbon (Links to an external site.).

The next article explains how the EU carbon-trading market has reduced carbon emissions slightly in Europe.

EU carbon-trading market has reduced emissions despite low carbon prices (Links to an external site.).

This is a much slower pace than the vigorous effort to reduce carbon emissions that will be necessary to stabilize carbon concentrations at 550 ppm, but still much better than what the U.S. has achieved during the same period. The next article gives an example of what has been going on in the U.S. Read it and weep.

US vehicle fuel efficiency effectively stalled over the last 10 years (Links to an external site.).

For the first part of this assignment, I ask you to read all three articles and try to explain the theory of carbon pricing as best as you can to one or more of your acquaintances. Report on your success or failure to make it understandable. Refer to the lecture notes or to other material gleaned online for additional assistance. Do you feel that the current U.S. administration is on the right track to mitigate climate change? Should it do even more, or should it do a little as the Trump administration? Use what you have learned so far about costs and benefit calculations to make a persuasive argument either way.

For the second part of this assignment, please watch the following 10-min. video which I did not have time to show during today’s lecture. (Invite an acquaintance to watch it with you if you can.)

The Story of Cap & Trade (Links to an external site.)

It is by the same people who produced The Story of Stuff which you saw at the beginning of the semester. It explains why cap-and-trade is unlikely to work as well as a Pigouvian tax or outright regulation to reduce carbon emissions.

The pros and cons of cap & trade are complex. One important consideration is that the powerful fossil energy industry lobby could easily mount an all-out disinformation blitz to derail any attempt at a Green New Deal unless the government awards it property rights over the environment (a “pollutees pay” regime). Despite its flaws, should the government make this “pact with the devil” and embrace cap & trade? Or should it press ahead with a policy that is more likely to achieve better results, but that also has a greater chance of being blocked by industry lobbyists and their Republican allies? Make a persuasive argument either way.

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