In May of 2013 I gave a talk at Clean Energy Action’s Global Warming Solutions Speaker Series in Boulder, on how we might structure a carbon pricing scheme in Colorado. You can also download a PDF of the slides and watch an edited version of that presentation via YouTube:
The short policy overview:
- We should begin levying a modest carbon tax, in the range of $5 to $25/ton of CO2e.
- The tax must be applied to the fossil fuels used in electricity generation (coal and natural gas). Ideally it should also be applied to gasoline, diesel, natural gas used outside the power sector, and fugitive methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, but those are less important for the moment.
- New electricity generation resources must be allowed to compete economically with the operation of existing carbon-intensive facilities, and fuel costs must not be blindly passed through to consumers without either rigorous regulatory oversight, or utilities sharing fuel price risk.
- Carbon tax revenues should be spent on emissions mitigation, providing reliable, low-cost financing for energy efficiency measures and a standard-offer contract with modest performance-based returns for new renewable generation.
- Over time the carbon price should be increased and applied uniformly across all segments of the economy, with the eventual integration of consumption based emissions footprinting for imported goods.
But wait… I can hear you saying, I thought the Citizen’s Climate Lobby was rallying support for a revenue neutral carbon tax proposal? Even the arch-conservative American Enterprise Institute was looking into it, weren’t they?
Read on to understand why we disagree on the issue of revenue neutrality.
International Energy Agency’s 2012 WORLD ENERGY OUTLOOK reports on key elements of the world-wide energy equation, ending with a hard look at the future of the world’s water resources. Analysis of global energy trajectories projects more than doubling the use of water by 2035. “(This amount is) equal to the residential water use of every person in the United States over three years, or 90 days’ discharge of the Mississippi River.”
Already-constrained global water resources will be impacted by expected increases in use of more water-intensive energy production methods for gas, oil, coal and biofuels. These effects could be compounded by the fact that much of the water used in these methods will not returned to its source.
Future planning for growth in the key areas of energy production, population and economic development will be essential to managing vulnerable global water resources. Implementation of fuel-free, low-water use clean, renewable energy technologies could be a bright part of the future’s picture.
In September 2012, Ceres published a report discussing the effects that the increasing number and severity of storms are having on insurance providers, consumers and the broader economy in the United States. Drought, fires, hurricanes, flooding and winter storms are all key discussion topics. In 2011, insured damage costs totaled $44 billion, the second highest only to those from 2005 when hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma occurred, causing insured damage costs to total $60 billion (pg 10). Below is a graph from the report which represents the natural disaster trends in the United States, showing that the number of events has generally been increasing since 1980.