This week some Republican Party elders argued for a carbon tax as a replacement for the Obama Administration’s regulations mandating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions in the electric power generating industry, among others. I agree that if it were actually advantageous to reduce such emissions, a carbon tax approach offers advantages, including its greater efficiency in reducing such emissions.
But there is no basis for believing that CO2 emissions need to be reduced. Global climate models relied on by the climate alarmists are irrelevant given their inability to accurately predict anything. And the tax would drive up the cost of using fossil fuels, which would discourage their use, and with it the added human productivity which results from using reliable energy to assist in accomplishing human tasks. In fact, the best current studies show that increases in atmospheric CO2 levels have no significant effects on global temperatures and encourage plant growth. So even assuming that reductions of human-induced CO2 emissions would have any effect on atmospheric CO2 levels, the reductions would not influence global temperatures according to the Wallace et al., 2016 study. There are lots of other studies that question the UN conclusions, of course, but none that are so definitive.
The Amazing Inability of Prominent Politicians to Understand the Simple Reality
I continue to be amazed that prominent political figures seem to be unable to understand this and continue to advocate the same old solution to a non-problem (alleged catastrophic increases in global temperaturesn due to human-caused emissions of CO2). Are they unable to read and understand the literature? Or if they are unable, are they unable to hire someone to explain to them what the literature clearly says? One of the elders, George Shultz, is an economist and should be able to understand the significance of the key econometric study.
They advocate that the tax be revenue neutral, which would be preferable to a highly regressive tax alone. But we have seen in California what would actually happen when a climate cap and trade law is imposed–the funds would be used for new government boondoggles. The best thing for politicians to do is instead to argue for getting the government out of the energy markets and to instead allow the private markets to set prices and determine energy sources. That would be much more efficient. There is no basis for government intervention in these markets given that conventional pollution from energy generation and use are well regulated, or even over regulated.