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What the US Can Learn From Europe's Pollution Credit System 425

Posted by timothy
from the three-euro-per-croissant dept.
Al writes "Technology Review discusses what a US carbon trading scheme could learn from the flawed European experience. Advocates of carbon-trading schemes like to point to Europe's cap-and-trade program as a model worthy of emulation, but the reality has been less than perfect. A glut of pollution credits, distributed without cost during both the first, transitional phase of the program and the current working phase, drove down the value of the EUAs. As a result, Europe's carbon dioxide emissions remain priced well below 20 euros per ton. With the price of pollution so low, economists say, industries that generate and consume energy have no incentives to change their habits; it is still cheaper to use fossil fuels than to switch to technologies that pollute less. Establishing a carbon price in the US system now, and tightening the system later, could send a dangerously wrong signal to financial markets looking to invest in new energy technologies."
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What the US Can Learn From Europe's Pollution Credit System

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:14PM (#28548617)

    ...a huge fraction of the economy will soon degenerate into a free-for-all of special interest group favoritism, graft, corruption, and kickbacks?

    Of course, Obama and Congress know all that. That's why they're doing it...

  • by tcopeland (32225) <{moc.dnalepoceelsamoht} {ta} {mot}> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:16PM (#28548667) Homepage

    ...is that it's not progressive. So Joe Sixpack bears a much higher load in proportion to, say, Al Gore. An article by Robert Zubrin [rollcall.com] pegs this cost as $1800 for a family of four. This on top of a 9.x% unemployment rate. Huh.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoffrobinson (109879) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:20PM (#28548735) Homepage

    This particular regulatory scheme employs a market mechanism. That's not the same as The Market.

  • Yeah, funny that. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dwiget001 (1073738) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:21PM (#28548745)

    How about NOT burdening each and every citizen with higher energy costs for some forced and flawed utopian ideal which might result in a whopping 0.2 percent carbon emmissions. further wrecking the U.S. economy and industries.

    If the new technologies being talked about, worked on, etc. are not economically feasible because of the current price of other energy generation, too bad.

    The solution would be to get the "new" technologies to produce energy at or below the cost of current energy generation, not taxing everyone in oblivion to artificially do this.

    Sure, do all you can to help clean up the environment and to minimize or eliminate pollution. I am all for cleaner, greener, etc. I am not for more tax burdens on top of the already increased tax burdens I and many many others are now facing in this country.

    The U.S. government is (and has been) in the hands of A) lunatics and B) people that couldn't run a business if their lives depended on it (the greatest majority of them, in any case).

  • by DriedClexler (814907) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:23PM (#28548785)

    The other important consideration is making sure you don't just shift the problem. If only a few countries, or even most of them agree to restrictions, the rest of the world will shrug its collective shoulders, and take on the fossil fuel burning and productino that the nicer countries have kept themselves from doing. Specifically, the BRIC block (Brazil, Russia, India, and China).

    Any plan for such a global problem MUST take into account the actions of such "defecting" countries, or you might as well not bother. That can mean using auction revenues to sink CO2, tariffing non-compliant countries (though with blanket punitive tariff on all of their products; it's too much work to figure out the marginal CO2 impact of any one product when they're not pricing its cost in), and yes, even geoengineering.

    "Unilateral disarmament" is symbolic at best.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:26PM (#28548847)

    If the goal is 'saving the Earth' Europe's carbon tax isn't working very well. But if the goal is raising taxes and growing government control then it is a success.

    So it should come as no surprise that the US is eager to emulate the success of Europe's 'cap and trade' regime. The green movement is basically a watermelon, enviro green on the outside and red communist inside. The green movement was subverted and taken over back in the Soviet days when almost every group that didn't take overt efforts at resisting such a takeover was borged and used as a front.

    But to their credit even Greenpeace was against the atrocity the House just passed. Because they still have enough true believers in environmentalism left that understand what the cap and trade plan moving through Congress really is. Any benefit to the environment will be a happy accident. They give away almost all of the credits in the short and medium term to political allies to allow them to pollute all they want. The point is to slowly gain CONTROL over vast swaths of the American economy.

    If we really want to control carbon emissions a huge new government structure that will always throw 'free credits' out anytime there is real pain (i.e. enraged ratepayers, a plant about to close, a huge sack of campaign cash offered, etc.) so there won't be much real reduction.

    No, just put a straight TAX on energy sources that you want to discourage. Personally I'm not a believer in AGW but I could get behind such an effort on the grounds of reducing our dependence on oil form countries that want us dead. But I can't support cap and trade because a) it won't work and b) is a solution worse than the problem.

  • Wind/Solar Only? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hubbell (850646) <{brianhubbellii} {at} {live.com}> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:30PM (#28548915)
    Why is the bill worded to demand that only solar/wind be advanced as renewable when for all intents and purposes Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactors are cheaper (these renewable sources are much more expensive barring an insanely good breakthrough/require MUCH LARGER areas to be anywhere near current power plant outputs) and also renewable in the fact that they burn their waste, then burn their wastes waste, etc, all the way down to burning 90+% of their waste with the remaining byproduct only being slightly hot for 5-10 years?
  • Flawed? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by psnyder (1326089) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:32PM (#28548979)
    Politicians grabbing at money via legislation that's difficult to monitor and enforce, so that companies will invest in technologies that are inefficient or don't exist yet?
    How is this a flawed system?
  • by mrvan (973822) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:35PM (#28549027)

    In economics, it is generally accepted that the free market only establishes the right price of a good if there are no externalities. Hence, if producing a good is cheap but has large negative external effects (eg pollution, human harm), the market will price it lower than would be optimal for the society at large, because they are paying the price of the externality (eg by cleanup costs, reduced hapiness/lifespan).

    The main ways to 'internalize' these externalities so the free market can do its job are (1) explicitly internalizing the externality, eg making employers responsible for workplace accidents, making mining companies etc pay cleanup costs), or (2) taxing the factor causing the externality so the price is about right. The latter option has the drawback of somehow determining the right value of the externality. A Cap-and-trade system does this by creating artificial scarcity, but the amount to cap is difficult to establish and ultimately a political decision.

    What I am trying to say is that cap-and-trade is not some sort of socialist contraption. Rather, it is one of the most natural ways of dealing with a negative externality in a free market system.

    Ignoring the externality is a fuck-the-others (in this case, fuck-the-children) mentality that has nothing to do with the ideal free market or (broad and/or long-term) prosperity

  • by aurispector (530273) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:40PM (#28549143)

    The easiest and cheapest way to encourage the growth of green tech is via tax credits. Make solar, wind, hydro and nuclear so attractive you'd be crazy to build any other kind of generating station. Make it so companies buying green power get tax credits. Make it so much more profitable to make and use green energy that the market embraces it. No need for expensive government investment in shaky new tech - the market takes care of all the R&D. Incentives are the way to go. Carbon markets are bullshit.

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:41PM (#28549161) Journal

    everything is safe in certain quantities, everything is dangerous in excessive quantities. The fact that a small level of CO2 is not only safe but neccessary has no bearing on whether or not higher levels are harmful to the climate. In fact, most of the science points to a rapid change in CO2 being the causal agent for climate change. It's effects are not uniform but to say that it hasn't harmed anyone is most certainly not a truthful statement.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:42PM (#28549191)

    What based life form are we?

  • by ThosLives (686517) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:46PM (#28549259) Journal

    What's irritating is that cap and trade can't even do what it's supposed to do anyway.

    Consider this: a government says "Ok, we'll only sell licenses to produce 100 million tons of CO2 per year." Factories produce a net 130 million tons of CO2 that year, even though they were only licensed to produce 100 million. There is no mechanism the government can employ to enforce the licenses. They could potentially fine the "overproduction" but that doesn't actually prevent the production of the CO2.

    The "credits" bit doesn't work either, and it's even worse than the inability to prevent overproduction. The way I understand it, if I do some activity that offsets CO2 production, I get a credit. The problem is that word "offset". If it was only for sequestration that would be great, but my impression is that if I create a wind farm that produces the same power as a coal plant that would produce 1 million tons, I get a 1 million ton CO2 credit that I can sell to someone else. But since it's possible to create an infinite amount of things that do not emit CO2, there is no cap here either because it doesn't actually prevent the creation of more CO2 - or whatever the target emission might be.

    The only real solution is, even though it's not political, is to simply tax CO2 emissions straight up. Those who don't emit don't pay the tax, those who do pay it. For consumers it's simple - you roll it into fuel taxes because CO2 emissions are directly linked to fuel consumption. For powerplants and such you do the same, and the taxes get passed on to consumers.

    This solution, I think, has the best chance of actually resulting in the desired outcome without being overly complicated or reliant on false ideas of caps that cannot be enforced.

    The biggest issue I see is that CO2 is a byproduct of simply being alive, so you will get into the mess of "do you tax all CO2 emissions, or only those made by machines? What about if some farmer burns brush in his yard? What about campfires?"

    In all, it's really quite a mess when at its core people try to dictate the behavior of others. If you offer an incentive and people don't take it, the solution should not be to beat them with a stick and force them to take it.

  • by networkBoy (774728) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:46PM (#28549263) Homepage Journal

    um... Hate to burst your bubble, but most explosions are due to nitrates not carbon. Bullets are lead*, and graphite is an excellent lubricant.

    -nB

    *I know, not any more they aren't...

  • by benjamindees (441808) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:47PM (#28549295) Homepage

    Oh, we aren't taxing Carbon. We're supposedly taxing greenhouse gases. But we aren't really even doing that. Cow farts are completely off the table due to agricultural lobbies. Coal-burning utilities and industries are receiving special treatment, since Democrats get lots of votes from coal and steel-heavy regions. Carbon capture will end up being a wasteful boondoggle. It's not even clear yet whether imports of worthless Chinese trinkets will be taxed based on their carbon usage.

    Basically the only thing being singled out for special taxes is oil, which is somewhere in the middle of the list of fossil fuels contributing to global warming. The whole thing is a green-washed sham designed to tax foreign oil in favor of local energy production, without incurring the ire of supernational organizations like the WTO. It's not that we don't need more local energy production, but to pretend that the proposed exception-laden US cap-and-trade system will do anything to significantly reduce greenhouse gases is naive.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by caramelcarrot (778148) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:54PM (#28549443)
    Markets only happen if that which is being traded is scarce. Pollution credits are not a natural commodity, and they are effectively infinite without regulation.
  • by chrb (1083577) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:55PM (#28549453)

    Sure, do all you can to help clean up the environment and to minimize or eliminate pollution. I am all for cleaner, greener, etc. I am not for more tax burdens on top of the already increased tax burdens I and many many others are now facing in this country.

    One of the best ways to reduce pollution is to tax it. Reducing pollution costs money. The purpose of a corporation is to generate profit for shareholders. Given the choice, no corporation would reduce pollution instead of returning a higher dividend. So, for pollution to be reduced, government has to be involved somehow. There are two possible ways:

    • A blanket ban on technologies. Government says what you can and can't use in your business.
    • A tax that charges the externality cost back to the original product and lets the market produce the most efficient solution

    I recommend that everyone who is interested in this topic should read The Undercover Economist [amazon.co.uk] by Tim Hartford, particularly chapter "Crosstown Traffic" subsection "Battling pollution on the cheap". The gist of it is that sulphur dioxide emissions were successfully reduced by taxation to the point where the tax is negligible. Initially, the corporations involved in power generation claimed that it would be impossible to do, that each ton of reduction in emissions would cost thousands of dollars. And yet, within 3 years of an auction based taxation being introduced, the cost per ton had fallen to $70.

    Isn't this exactly what we all want? A market based solution to the problem, rather than overbearing government regulation?

  • by TheJodster (212554) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:00PM (#28549545) Homepage

    I will probably be blasted by all the environmentalists in the group, but this simply won't work. My office is two hundred feet from a coal fired power plant. They are upgrading their pollution controls right now. They are spending over $200 million on it. There is a new plant scheduled to be online in a matter of months right next to it. This is the cheapest source of power in the area. It employs hundreds of people. My company had thousands of people last year. The cost of electricity shut us down. All of my friends are sitting at home drawing unemployment. I don't know what they are going to do when their benefits are exhausted. High electricity costs will drive jobs out of America. Power is the primary cost of many manufacturing processes. All manufacturing where power is the primary driver will be done in China, Mexico, Brazil, Iceland, etc. It will be done where there are no carbon credits to buy and the environmental laws are lax. Business goes where its cheap to operate.

    You aren't saving the environment by driving out business. The president cited California as an example of good energy policy. A lot of power consumed in California comes from neighboring states that don't have such strict regulations. The government of California is broke. They may not be able to make payroll next month. Is that where we want America to go? Is that our future model?

    We are going to drive our businesses overseas. These foreign countries will build power plants to supply their new found industry. They won't care much about pollution other than to pay lip service to it. By the time we are finished cleaning up America's air, we'll all be sitting on our thumbs with no jobs lamenting our plight. On the upside, the air we are breathing during this wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth may perhaps be slightly cleaner than before. If your goal is to reverse global climate change, you are sadly mistaken if you think this will fix it. Other nations will fill in the production gaps. They don't give a crap about the environment. They want power. You gain power by having a happy, well fed, and prosperous population. This is done through industry and jobs. The pollution will simply be outsourced along with your job.

  • by dachshund (300733) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:00PM (#28549551)

    You're not counting coal reserves, which will eventually tail off as well, but could probably see considerable increase in production (particularly as China continues to develop).

    In any case, "solving the problem" --- by burning through so much of our reserves that other technologies become cost-effective --- may not be the safest strategy.

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:04PM (#28549641) Journal

    No, the fact is that the link between CO2 and global temp is a theory.

    so is relativity, gravitational theory, evolutionary theory etc. A theory in science does not constitute a wild guess.

    Does CO2 (absent human activity) rise with temp or does it work the other way around.

    From the data I've seen, the answer appears to be both. CO2 levels can rise as the result of higher metabolic activity spurred on by higher temperatures and CO2 can also force higher temperatures.

    Can a conclusion be drawn from those three facts? No. But it certainly doesn't make the arguments for AGW stronger.

    indeed, there's more to the theory of AGW than these facts, that's why people spend years of work doing research on the matter. National policy should be done in such a way as to both limit government involvement and follow the science; not one or the other. Unfortunately, the two sides have become so polarized and fervently supportive of an either or approach that it's unlikely to end well and both ends are outside the realm of sane policy.

  • by caladine (1290184) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:06PM (#28549673)

    (Now there are various caveats. The really big one being the ability of nations to "outsource" their emissions by importing from nations with no such caps. But I don't think this is an argument for removing the caps --- rather, we should be finding ways to integrate the trading schemes of those nations with caps, and recover some of the carbon cost on imports from the other nations.)

    This is a massive caveat. I don't think that "finding ways to integrate the trading schemes of those nations with caps, and recover some of the carbon cost on imports from the other nations" is going to work either. The long and short of it is that you'd like to impose some kind of "carbon tariff" on imports from said countries. That'll fly as well a bird with clipped wings, and will lead to retaliatory tariffs. This also says nothing about what the WTO would think about such a tariff in the first place.

  • by McBeer (714119) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:09PM (#28549737) Homepage

    An article by Robert Zubrin [rollcall.com] pegs this cost as $1800 for a family of four.

    The articles argument is flawed. As I read it, the argument went thusly:

    1) By 2015 the carbon price will be about $15/ton
    2) United States currently emits about 9 billion tons of CO2 per year
    3) The United states carbon output will not change as a result of this legislation
    4) 2+3 -> In 2015, United States will emit about 9 billion tons of CO2 per year.
    5) There will be about 300 million Americans in 2015
    6) Any tax on carbon gets passed on directly to consumers who enjoy no financial benefit in return.
    7) 4+5+6-> A group of 4 Americans will have an increased liability of $1800 annually as a result of this legislation

    Several of these premises are false.

    1- accepted
    2- accepted
    3 - Probably false though debatable
    4- true/false depending on (3)
    5 - accepted
    6 - False. The taxed money isn't simply thrown in a hole and burned. The government will use that money and thereby reduce the need for other taxes or, more probably, use it to offset the rampant deficit spending already taking place. When the government does things (build roads, starts wars, provides social services, etc) that costs tax payers money. Unless a government is building a large surplus for no reason, taxes do not cost people money. Tax systems just determine who has to pay what portion of the money already spent with the aforementioned projects (build roads, starts wars, provides social services, etc). In this case, everybody will pay some, but those whose actions negatively affect society pay an additional price for it and are thereby incentivized to lessen the harmful behavior. This sort of tax pays for the things we bought and encourages sustainable business practices to boot. A real win-win.

    If you want to complain about something, complain whenever the government tries to spend money, not when it tries to collect it. Approving every proposed government project and then screaming bloody murder over every government tax is how got to have the budget problems we now have.

  • by random coward (527722) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:09PM (#28549743)
    Well there are these scientists [wikipedia.org] to start with.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JAZ (13084) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:11PM (#28549783)
    I prefer to think of it as Indulgence. Like buying a pardon from the Catholic Church for your sins against God, Carbon Offsets are forgiveness from the Church of Al Gore for your sins against Gaia.

    Not that the money *can't* be used for good, but it is rather hard to trace.
  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:15PM (#28549847)
    So pay a uniform "pre-bate" [1]to everyone equal to the "energy tax" they would pay

    Hold the phone, homer. How about don't take it from me in the first place! The government can't send you a 'check' unless they take the money from you first.
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:18PM (#28549909) Homepage Journal
    It can learn that carbon trading schemes don't work, is a drain on the economy, and only enriches a few well connected that dreamed it up... while reducing total greenhouse gases by negligible amounts to none.

    On the other hand, U.S. can also learn something useful from one of Europe's bigger countries, France: having large numbers of nuclear power plants that provide majority of your nation's electricity needs can be done, practically and safely. Of all the non-carbon-generating "green" energy schemes out there, nuclear is the only one that is practical and cost-competitive with fossil fuels on any sort of a large scale.
  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:27PM (#28550047) Homepage Journal

    Science most definitely has found a correlation between temperature increase, and atmospheric carbon increases. Most certainly. But, to claim that science has established a cause and effect is either ignorant, or dishonest. Ignorance can be cured, though.

    I think you are the one being dishonest. There is hard science behind the greenhouse effect and radiative forcing, ie hard science behind increased C02 concentration in the atmosphere causing the Earth to retain more heat.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dachshund (300733) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:30PM (#28550107)

    This particular regulatory scheme employs a market mechanism. That's not the same as The Market.

    What is this "The Market" that you refer to with such reverent caps? Are you perhaps referring to the global energy market--- which is distorted by subsidies, national security spending, and a lack of pricing on externalities such as pollution?

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:33PM (#28550143)

    That problem is overpopulation. massive overpopulation.

    So, what do you think the ideal population should be?

    Frankly, I fail to see overpopulation as the problem, since our population (in the advanced countries that are actually capable of limiting pollution) is declining, and has been for years.

  • by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:33PM (#28550147)

    No, the fact is, I haven't heard a scientific THEORY about CO2, at all.

    I've seen hypotheses, sure. A properly formulated and tested theory as to the mechanics? Nope.

  • by 2obvious4u (871996) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:39PM (#28550239)

    Actually the easiest way to do it is to tax oil and coal directly. Green tech boomed when gas prices got up to about $5.00 a gallon. Just tax foreign oil directly and you'll have the same effect.

    Good luck getting that passed the coal lobbies and big oil lobbies though...

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hardburn (141468) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:42PM (#28550299)

    The problem with satirizing the right wing is that it's too easy to be mistaken for the real deal.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:44PM (#28550313)

    > That problem is overpopulation. massive overpopulation.

    Nope, you are looking at a symptom not the cause. The problem is the uneven distribution of capitalism and liberty. Go look at the numbers. There is an unmistakable link between freedom, wealth and birth rate. The link is even better if you assume a two generation lag on the birth rate vs the other factors.

    The solution is thus simple, bring the blessings of liberty to the huddled masses yearning to breath free. Help them establish a solid rule of law and watch them become quickly become prosperous. Yes their population will spike as improved conditions permit a population boom, but that will soon stabilize and begin to decline. The US is the only thing resembling an exception to this rule and our population would also be in decline without illegal immigration.

  • by Peter La Casse (3992) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:55PM (#28550477) Homepage

    Fair enough, but how do you say "We're going to get the economy back on track, and then we'll clean up our act" and prevent anyone from changing course back to business as usual?

    We don't have to take artificial action because a healthy economy increases demand for energy (here and in the third world), driving up energy prices and making alternate energy sources cost-competitive (a partial goal of cap-and-trade legislation).

    In any case, I hope we can all agree that hurting the economy without actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions doesn't help anyone.

  • by dan_sdot (721837) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:58PM (#28550527)
    Because many of the most powerful environmental lobbies are just a bunch of fanatics who throw around the word "science" even though their hatred of nuclear power is more of a religion.
  • by sampson7 (536545) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @06:02PM (#28550579)
    This article is worthless. It ignores several critical facts: (1) the European cap-and-trade will reduce emissions over the next few years; (2) the over-allocation of initial credits is being addressed; and (3) a comparable cap-and-trade system effectively eliminated the acid rain problems in the United States due to SOx emissions in the 1990s.

    In fact, I think the European experience has been enormously beneficial.

    First, it has demonstrated that a carbon trading market can exist without bankrupting power producers or other emitters of carbon. The very fact that prices have remained manageable is critical to the fact that the power generation industry [us-cap.org] in the United States has largely supported the recent cap-and-trade legislation. (Full dislosure: I coincidently work for a company that happens to be part of USCAP, though I only work on climate change tangentially. The thoughts here are my own.)

    Second, the EU's grand experiment has created a new industry of carbon brokers who go around the world identifying and pricing potential carbon offsets. The fact that we now have some transparency and price discovery surrounding carbon offsets is a huge benefit. It also has lead to the preliminary steps for creating fungible and verifiable carbon contracts. For example, in a market-based system, a one ton reduction in carbon emissions in China should be able to fetch the same price in Europe or the United States. However, we need set metrics to verify the reduction and to avoid double counting. The European experience has given us lots of experience in what we need to do.

    Third, the European experience demonstrated the critical need to accurately quantify the carbon emitted by industry. It is no coincidence that one of the Obama administration's first actions when coming into office was to order industry to begin reporting their carbon emissions.

    Finally, we cannot miss the point that Europe is reducing its emissions. Cap-and-trade programs are designed to ratchet down emissions over time. Every year, another 2 percent of the credits just disappear. So the over-allocation may have decreased the speed at which the carbon reduction occurs, but less carbon is being emitted today.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @06:11PM (#28550723)
  • by Greg_D (138979) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @06:50PM (#28551205)

    Yes, but in Obamaspeak, they've "created" 5 jobs. And on top of that, who knows how many jobs they've "saved?"

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @06:53PM (#28551277) Homepage Journal

    Hard core scientists aren't out making the pitch for carbon credits, my friend. Those people are still researching, studying, and hypothesizing.

    http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/07/01/trees-earth-freeze.html [discovery.com]

    The discovery channel has had their share of the global warming kool-aid, and they no longer present completely unbiased articles. But, read the article anyway.

    Want to save the earth? Plant some trees. Deforestation is more at fault for any man made climate change than even our ignorant wasteful use of fossil fuels. Instead of buying carbon credits, go CREATE some carbon credits. Plant a dozen trees, wherever you live. One pin oak can sequester 5 tons of carbon, in time. Some few varieties of pine can come close to that. Avoid the genetically engineered varieties that are used to make paper. Smaller, more attractive shade trees, such as magnolias and dogwoods will store less carbon, but every ton helps.

  • by Iyonesco (1482555) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @07:01PM (#28551373)

    Why is this 5, Informative? I got the impression he was trying to be funny but it seems the members of the Church of Global Warming are so anti-carbon they've taken this comment seriously. It's getting as bad as when Greenpeace tried to have chlorine banned.

    Environmentalism is the new religion and we're going to end up with a crusade of lunatics travelling through the universe trying to eradicate select elements because they've deemed them to be evil.

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @08:40PM (#28552385)
    It's a tax on FUEL AND ENERGY. You couldn't think of a tax that would spread out more efficiently to harm all sectors of the economy.
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @08:45PM (#28552417) Homepage Journal

    Unrelated. Unrelated rant, he says. Perhaps the man doesn't comprehend the English language. I realize that scores of people who belong to slashdot are from outside the US. Possibly hundreds.

    In fairness, I'll explain simply how and why the "rant" is related. People are running around, shouting "The carbon is increasing, the carbon is increasing." I tell Chicken Little and friends that they should plant a tree. Chicken Little fails to understand that deforestation not only releases carbon into the atmosphere, but also takes away a huge carbon sink, into which we could otherwise store huge amounts of carbon. Deforestation has continued at a pretty steady pace for the last 100 years.

    While Chicken Little blathers about creating carbon credits, he fails to actually create carbon sinks. With nowhere to store carbon, all the carbon credits in the world are meaningless nonsense. It's wonderful that the consensus people and the politicians can make some political capital on their carbon credit scheme - but they are solving NOTHING. Alarmist attitudes can line pockets, but they don't do anything about existing carbon.

    Now, go back and re-read my posts. Read the article I linked to again (assuming you read it the first time). THEN come back here and tell us all about unrelated rants.

    Then, go plant some trees, stop using paper, and never leave another block of lumber out in the rain to rot. Conservation will go a long way toward solving this contrived man-made climate crisis. Stop wasting stuff. Start with gasoline, then your electricity, then start recycling your trash. Waste not, want not. Plant a tree. Do something more useful than blowing hot air to support a political position.

    Carbon credits my ass.

  • by zogger (617870) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @09:01PM (#28552539) Homepage Journal

    Higher levels of co2 are one of the things that keep the planet from being in a long term and rather drastic ice age. Ya know, ice miles deep extending all the way to the midwestern states, and still rather cold even beyond that south. It is precisely because we have some moderately higher levels of co2 in the atmosphere that Canada, northern and central Europe and large parts of the northern US are even habitable today. Greenland not that long ago had a more temperate climate, for example.CO2 levels are helping us right now, not hurting for the most part. If we were to lose frost free months up north, the planet would lose untold millions of tons of valuable grain production. We'd be facing some serious threats of famine right now if conditions got any colder than they are. A slightly warmer climate in other words is a LOT better than a colder one.

    Cap and trade is an outright con and scheme designed to impose a trillion dollar a year tax on everyone, and transfer that money to the already rich globalist investment speculators and traders, and also as a by product, to give them more international control outside of the normal political process. It has nothing to do with fixing the climate. That's the con they are offering, the bait.

    If they wanted to fix the climate (which really doesn't need much fixing right now, we are in the middle of a nice temperate period between ice ages, we just mainly need to sort out the erroneous idea that people can live in deserts with no adequate water, this reality is sinking in finally, like in California where they just *screwed* their big food production areas by denying them irrigation water, because they have just slap run out. It's a desert, it just can't support as many people who want to live there as want to given their supplies, plus have the largest winter vegetable production. Geographical reality), or just encourage somewhat cleaner industries (I'm all for energy decentralization and a more wide diversification of energy production and the mass adoption of such things as personal home solar, etc), all they would need to do is offer universal tax credits for those industries and products. No tax is needed whatsoever, no "war on carbon", and zero new governmental employees or additional expense is needed for this either, just a checkbox on your tax form and clip on the receipts if required. And it really is that easy.

    Elimination of taxes encourages investments and improvements, not impositions of new taxes-even if they don't call them taxes. Forcing new artificial fees on energy products-which in turn will increase the cost of just about every single tangible product you buy, and a lot of the intangibles as well, such as digital products dependent on expensive hardware plus energy, is a defacto "new tax".

    Energy companies could really not give a shit how they go about it, producing electricity for you to send you a monthly bill. They just want that check from you, that's all, it's not rocket surgery to see this. Give them a 100% tax credit to install massive windfarms and solar thermal and so on, that would be a heckuva inducement for them, you'd see them switch from coal rapidly, (as much as feasible anyway), with no "cap and trade" middleman skimming scheme needed.

    Same with individuals, give them a 100% tax credit to install say a decent 2 or 3 kw sized home solar rig, perhaps at a limit of around 25 grand in cost, tax credit extending for ten years (within payback time IOW), you'd see twenty (whatever, a lot) new solar companies producing panels and the assorted gear within a few months, and untold tens of millions of panels going up all over the nation. No regressive tax needed. The tax *credit*, the "anti-tax", is the most amazing and *benevolent* tool the government can use for fair and constructive change. I like to call it the carrot method, instead of the stick or "club you over the economic head" method, which for some odd reason they always seem to prefer. Proly because they dig on forcing you to obe

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:01PM (#28553005) Journal
    Three citations, please.
  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:57PM (#28553383) Homepage Journal

    Unrelated. Unrelated rant, he says

    Yes, as it was a reply to my comment which in no way addressed that comment which was simply:

    I think you are the one being dishonest. There is hard science behind the greenhouse effect and radiative forcing, ie hard science behind increased C02 concentration in the atmosphere causing the Earth to retain more heat.

    You are disingenuous and blatantly guilty of the exact behaviour you decry in others.

  • by scamper_22 (1073470) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:10PM (#28553485)

    Here's a little question. Does anyone here not see the market working?
    Toyota Prius?
    Everyone seems to be doing plugin hybrids by 2010.
    Google's funding nano-solar.
    Countless ventures are out there in terms of battery power, renewables...

    So if I might ask... what the hell is the problem? There's no shortage of research or money in the field. If technology can solve this problem, it will.

    Any tax now would hurt the poor the most. Which is not a nice thing in this economy... much less any other time. The rich can afford a prius and to live in downtown near the subway.

    That said, I 100% understand accounting for externalities in the market. Of course, we already tend to have those... it is called a gas tax for gasoline which hasn't be used to pay for roads in a long time.

    I would be 100% for a global warming tax... if and only if 100% of the revenues go towards countering the effects of global warming (building levies, moving populations from low lying ares ...).

    Unfortunately, this is just going to become one massive corruption scheme.
    Big finance making billions off doing nothing... just playing a game of carbon credits.
    Governments handing out contracts and making laws to benefit certain businesses and industries...
    It's going to be a mess. But central planning is always a mess. Americans lived without it for a while... but every country gets its chance to be ruined by central planning.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by haeger (85819) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @03:22AM (#28554755)

    Salt is not a poison. Without it you would be dead.
    Now eat a few kilos of it today.

    Water is not a poison. Without it you would be dead.
    Now drink your own bodyweight in water today.

    Actually, don't. It'll probably kill you. Just because something isn't bad (or even essential) in small amounts doesn't mean that large amounts of it won't kill you.

  • by dwiget001 (1073738) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:45AM (#28558477)

    I am not ignoring *the war*. I am a Navy veteran, thanks, I am very aware of the conflicts our country has embroiled itself in.

    And, you seem hell bent on accusing me of "mental imbalance", please leave your Internet Psychology at home.

    Spending was and has been out of control, war, stimulus packages, TARP, etc. included. And, the table is being set to ramp up the spending even more, which was my main point.

    And, I agree, it is not a Democrat versus Republican (or vice versa) thing. I support neither one of the two major parties, they both share the blame for the current state of affairs. My problem is, both major parties have done jack sh!t to curb the spending, which is what I find (and other should find) the most disturbing situation related to the state of the union, so to speak.

    I have always voted for the candidate that I thought would do the best job, based on my own research, regardless of party. But recently, based on antics of both parties, I flatly refuse to vote for a member of either party unless and until one or both start taking actions that will benefit the country as a whole and not being hell bent on getting in and keeping in power, damning everything else.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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