I have read what you've written, but I suspect I'll never be able to articulate my case to your satisfaction. It might be useful if you'd reference a link to a full statement of the case for when carbon taxes are "most important" according to a criteria of "most important" being in-line with quantitative measurement, pricing, economics, etc. In my fallible view you're using a lot of quick shorthand for economic arguments, and then turning around and complaining that you are not understood. A way to clear that air more productively might be to just reference a calm mainstream paper or two.WetEV wrote: ↑Wed Feb 17, 2021 11:29 amRather than reading what I wrote, you show you didn't understand it. Costs are NOT static. So a carbon tax isn't the most important mechanism today... but it may be so in the future.jlsoaz wrote: ↑Wed Feb 17, 2021 9:48 amImposing GHG taxes is not primarily a matter of economic optimization. It is a matter of arguably the single most important mechanism at our disposal for addressing a planet-scale life-and-death inherently slow-developing and hard-to-fix-quickly pollution emergency.
Go back to 1977, about the time I was first concerned about climate change.
Solar cells were $77 per watt. Power generated from them would be roughly $10 per kWh. Or more.
To incentivize solar power, a carbon tax would need to be roughly $10 per kWh, or $20 per pound of carbon, $100 per gallon of gasoline or $40,000 per ton of carbon. Over 99.9999+% of the economy.
Don't you see that a massive carbon tax wouldn't have worked as well as the historic subsidies for solar power, some inadvertent subsidies like solar powered satellites? The size of the subsidy required is a minuscule compared with the required tax.
Notwithstanding whatever such links may say, as to why I and others think carbon taxes are presently a most measure of top importance, this from my standpoint is not strictly a mathematical calculation. For one thing, my point was to try to get across that carbon taxes are a measure that subsumes all other measures. Imposition of carbon taxes allows for carbon pollution damages to be reflected in pricing for everything. Right now the pollution property and damages are substantially under-reflected (hidden) throughout our economic system. A very minor (but to me sort of interesting) example might be that Musk has just invested in Bitcoin currency. But carbon taxes might (I suppose) help drive down the value of the currency if (as people are assuming) the blockchain aspect of the currency is heavily carbon-intensive. I'm trying to think of other examples, and it's not that easy (even though they would literally impact everything).
I suppose there is the basic point to make that..... instead of pointing fingers at oil companies, car companies and lenders for cashing in on the unpriced toxic externality of carbon pollution, ... we could see higher pricing for gasoline and diesel, and one of the key arguments for consumers sticking with the traditional vehicle/fossil fuel paradigm could be diminished. Other related measures such as extremely expensive taxpayer subsidization of BEV purchase could be somewhat reduced, but also, importantly (in my view), we could reduce and ultimately end the moralizing of looking at someone driving a 10 mpg vehicle and pointing a finger at them and their supposed lack of moral/social awareness, and just accept that we have agreed penalties for them to pay, and those penalties will ramp up, and even help to pay for the expensive transition to BEV.
As to your point about "massive" (?) carbon taxes and solar subsidies in 1977 (?!)
- I'm not sure why anyone is talking about "massive" carbon taxes. How about imposing very modest taxes and some moderate transparent ramp-up schedule appropriate to estimations of the property-damaging and life-taking poisonous pollution problem?
- I'm not sure I would have supported taxes in 1977 since I'm not sure the central global warming case was sufficiently proven by then, though I guess some proven pollution issues with fossil fuel burning warranted some rational economy-changing taxes, just as they warranted creation of some of the environmental agencies. And in the end, as you seem to point up, the pricing and solution availability equations were very different.
- So, it's 2021, 44 years after the example you gave. I'm not clear if your argument in the here and now is that carbon taxes should still be put off, or that they simply are not the super-important matter that I and Musk and others have elevated them to. Or perhaps your argument has more to do with when is the right time to ramp up carbon taxes, depending on development, availability, real-world viability and pricing of alternatives.
Yes, the pricing of low-carbon alternatives still has a ways to go to fall, and there are some technologies that simply have not been invented or sufficiently improved yet. Even if we assume for a moment some mixture of agreement/disagreement as to when/to-what-extent to impose pollution taxes earlier in a crisis, when do you think a carbon tax might be ok with you? Or are you arguing it's ok now, but that the argument for "most important" is what is at this point the point you disagree with?
I don't know for certain Musk's reasoning in assessing the "top" suggestion designation for carbon taxes. I have mentioned that part of my own reasoning is that such a tax subsumes other measures. Another second part of my own is that, in dealing with a toxic pollution issue, .... even assuming it is of importance in the process of policy-response to take into account pricing changes, low-polluting technology innovation, manufacturing ramp-up, unexpected harm caused by those "solutions", etc., .... choosing not to put *any* price (or ban) on behavior that is known to be property-damaging and life-taking is flat-out objectively wrong, regardless of timing. *Some* price or ban must be assessed, once a level of confidence is reached as to the designation that the behavior is damaging to property and life, because it is, morally and legally and in government philosophy, the right thing to do. Taking several other fancy smart expensive and inexpensive policy measures, (and spending decades arguing, as some have done, that carbon taxes cannot even be discussed because such taxes are supposedly inimical to a free society) and not imposing such a price or ban amounts, in my fallible view, to a snipe hunt that is already a candidate for a historically large Darwin Award for the whole community.
With that said, assessing the key turning points, granting that it may never be possible to know with 100% certainty the level of damage that is taking place or will result in future, and it may be difficult to assess what the solutions are in a way that takes into account further fallibility of solutions, and is generally humble in the face of the problem, certainly it is appropriate to raise questions around when to intervene with taxes, how much to begin with, and on what slope a tax size ramp-up should be planned, and so-on. Even assuming strong agreement on that point, then I'm not entirely sure what the disagreement is here but my own view is I think we're presently well at the point where our system is crying out for carbon pricing to complete the complement of policy tools that should be wielded in addressing such an enormous issue (we are told, with increasing details and hard justifications) as the climate emergency.