Plan-B for the climate (guest post)

Nice thing about blogging and tweeting is that you meet many people who have the same mindset as yourself, even if your ideas may seem radical. Today a colleague Tweep sent me this text to publish on my blog. I like this idea (create a coalition of the willing to get Carbon Taxes in place)

This last weekend we saw the COP20 in Lima 2014 come to a close. The agreement made caused applause at the venue. But is the reason for that applause justified? Would you agree that this COP
was a success? Many would think so, but even more wouldn’t including the environmental groups don’t to name a few.
And to continue on that line, do you think Paris 2015 will be a success? Some will say yes to that. There’s probably going to be a lot of talk of how hopeful they are at an agreement in Paris, and well, they’ll probably say the same things that were said in
the run up towards Lima. Things are different now, there’s a new momentum and we have a high chance of success. But we all know now what happened in Lima.
It’s like in politics, you shouldn’t vote for someone based on what he says during campaign time, but you should vote for someone for the things that he has done. The campaign for Paris has already started, hence all the applause when a deal was made in Lima. But words and applause are less meaningful compared to real action.
By now you should have noticed that I’m not that positive about the COP21 in Paris. I have no reason to do that. What we need is at least a 50% cut in emissions from 1990 by 2030. The EU has promised a 40% cut and that was regarded as weak, even as business as usual. So we have to do more. The EU has the potential to do more.

Paris is going to be crunch time. It’s going to be our last chance to get policies underway for staying under 2 degrees. Would it be so bad to start thinking about a Plan-B when Paris fails? If you think about it, a well made Plan-B could even put pressure on the outcome of Paris.
There’s a number of EU countries that want to do good, but can’t do it alone. There’s also a number of bad countries that for instance have opposed the EU plan for a carbon tax on airliners. These
were the same countries that didn’t do well in Lima. It’s time to put some pressure on these bad countries. For obvious reasons I’m going to avoid naming any of these countries to avoid cherry
picking, but you might guess who they are.

So there you have it, if we were to have a Plan-B it’s safe to say these good EU countries should take the lead in that. If these countries could unite (I can hear you thinking they are already united),
because they would have to reunite allowing non EU countries to join in as well. This is a global issue and not an EU issue. The good countries would have to unite outside of the EU box. Call it the
good countries box. A group of countries that are committed to keep this world as much as possible under the 2 degrees limit. Decisions made in this group are made by a two-thirds majority.
The basic idea.
These good countries would unite and basically implement 2 kinds of policies together. They would implement a fixed price on carbon emissions per ton (that should increase over the years) and would
implement an import carbon tax on the other countries. Any country willing to join this group simply has to implement these 2 policies. Any good country not doing his best to implement these policies can simply be kicked out. This group should only be used to regulate carbon emissions and not be used for anything else. Sounds very simple does it? I’m a fond believer of the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid). Most climate solutions have been far too difficult. This way it’s easy for countries to join and leave the group.

Not all bad countries should be treated the same. There’s of course not so bad countries and verybad countries. So there should be a number of categories in which to place a bad country with different taxation schemes. A country can be bad because it has high  emissions or a country can be bad because it uses a lot of products made in countries with high emissions and not taxing them.
Also countries can be bad for helping other bad countries avoiding taxation (more on that later). The placement of countries into those categories will be a difficult one, but it has to be done!
Some of those bad countries will not be very happy with their placement in a category and might issue counter measures to the good countries. All I can say to that is, let it be so. This can’t be
avoided. Counter measures will no doubt harm good countries, but will harm them selves as well.
No doubt people will try to avoid these taxation’s. For instance they will try to use border nations to escape taxation. This can be a disruptive thing to good countries wanting to do good. These border
nations should be persuaded to implement similar policies to a degree so they won’t be disruptive. Failing to do so will make them fall into a worse category of taxation. And this argument can be
very persuasive as it won’t be just the border country raising carbon taxation, but instead the whole group of nations raising carbon taxation on that one country.
By now you would have noticed I use the word tax a lot. It doesn’t mean that I like taxes. It’s just that if you use the principle “the polluter pays” there’s no other way around using taxes.

Some examples are needed here.
The easiest way to raise a carbon tax is at power stations and at the pump. Ships pay a carbon tax when taking on fuel in port. Airplanes  pay a carbon tax for taking on fuel at the airport. Every type of fuel has a fixed tax. It’s a simple as that. International transport can of course choose to take on fuel from a near by bad country. If that trend is big enough to be disruptive these countries can fall in to a worse category for heavier taxation. I can assure you, they don’t  want to have that.

My 2 cents on a Plan-B. It would be good if we seriously considered one.

Leo van Lierop

Leave a Reply