Carbon Tax

Green Energy Fiasco in Europe Continues, and Happy Earth Day!


Carbon Dioxide
Credit: Dreamstime Griffin024

Last week, Europe's carbon trading scheme experienced another of its periodic collapses, with the price of emissions permits falling to around 3 Euros per ton. The Washington Post has a good editorial about the manifold failures of Europe's carbon market, not least of which is that it has had essentially no effect on actually reducing the continent's greenhouse gas emissions. From the Post's "Europe is becoming a green-energy basket case," editorial:

FOR YEARS, European leaders have flaunted their unwavering commitment to fighting climate change — and chastised the United States for lagging behind. But last week brought yet more confirmation that the continent has become a green-energy basket case. Instead of a model for the world to emulate, Europe has become a model of what not to do.

…European governments have proved themselves to be incompetent central planners, counter-productive and wary of thinking pragmatically.

Germany is irrationally shutting its nuclear power plants — which produce lots of steady, reliable electricity and no carbon dioxide emissions — and promising that renewables will somehow pick up the slack. Perversely, that approach has led power companies to ramp up coal burning, the dirtiest fossil fuel, in a country that has also lavished its public money on the solar industry. Spain, too, has over-invested in expensive renewables. To its credit, France hasn't decided to shutter its nuclear plants, but it is one of many countries that refuse to open up natural gas reserves, a resource that could help wean the continent off coal.

Britain is comparatively better, developing its own carbon-pricing program and permitting gas development. But that hasn't kept Europe's carbon emissions from notching up in the last few years — even as those of the United States have decreased.

The Post concludes that for those concerned by the possibility of future catastrophic man-made global warming should basically endorse a carbon tax that puts…

a price on carbon emissions that is simple, predictable, aggressive and comprehensive, and then getting out of the way.

It is true that fully rebated carbon tax would be much preferable to the Waxman-Markey carbon trading scheme that failed in Congress back in 2009. And getting the government out of the way is critical - especially rolling back interventions like the automobile energy efficiency mandates, state mandates requiring that a percentage of electricity be produced using wind and solar power, bioethanol fuel mandates, building, appliance and building energy efficiency mandates, and so forth.

In any case, Happy Earth Day y'all.