Here's what's proposed by NASA's James Hansen to tackle runaway climate change:
"We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them. We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would not get a penny.
This market-based approach would stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick winners or losers.
Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would get more back than they paid in increased prices.
Not only that, the reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price."
It's of course a little more complex than this (just a bit).
But it is clear now, after a decade or more of debate, that we now know that emissions trading simply will not work. Technology will help, but it won't save us.
A GHG tax/fee is the only way to go. Now we know this, and all (sane people) seem to agree on it we need to begin exploring just how this will work, whom it will affect and how technology can help us overcome the hurdles.
I know work has been done on this, plenty of it. But we need more. Smart companies should support some serious research into consequences of carbon taxation.
BP always used to want to be seen to be progressive. Why not support further, well-publicised research into this? If Harvard are working on this, then why not help them financially? (BP has gone quiet on all this recently, if you search their website for "carbon tax" there are no statements to be found post 2008 at a senior level)
Exxon were saying upstream carbon taxes were they way to go back in 2007. Here's a quote from a piece I wrote on this five years ago:
"Exxon is in favour of what it calls “upstream cap and trade” of carbon emissions, where the “cost” of carbon-rich fuel sources would be paid at the point of its extraction, before the carbon was released into the atmosphere.
This might be when coal is mined or sold, or when petrol is refined from crude oil. Governments would have to think about a “price cap” to protect the industry, and allow businesses to pass on the costs to consumers, Exxon says.
Exxon’s proposed solution, when compared with the EU’s “downstream” cap and trade system - where companies pay to emit carbon dioxide as they emit it - would operate more genuinely “like a carbon tax” and fix the price of carbon, says the company. According to Exxon, this avoids the problems of working out emissions caps sector by sector as in the EU’s downstream system."
Of course Exxon and Hansen will no doubt disagree on who pays: the company or the consumer. How that plays out remains to be seen.
Better to start having that debate than continue kidding ourselves with emissions trading nonsense.