Here’s a great L.A. Times editorial on the various policy options that we can use to combat climate change. The editorial comes out firmly against regulation (simply ordering polluters to clean up), and mounts a reasoned criticism of cap-and-trade schemes (the EU trading scheme has been a bust). So what should we do instead? The Times’ recommendation is simple: impose a carbon tax. It’s the simplest, easiest and most effective way to reduce carbon emissions.
A well-designed, well-monitored carbon-trading scheme could deeply reduce greenhouse gases with less economic damage than pure regulation. But it’s not the best way, and it is so complex that it would probably take many years to iron out all the wrinkles. Voters might well embrace carbon taxes if political leaders were more honest about the comparative costs.
The world is under a deadline. Some scientists believe that once atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have doubled from the pre-industrial level, which may happen by mid-century if no action is taken, the damage may be irreversible.