Energy from coal or oil is cheap because it does not include the detrimental costs to society that its use creates. If carbon pollution causes a flood, the costs for cleaning up that flood are not priced into the fuel. If a farmer’s crop is ruined because of drought, those losses are not compensated for by the carbon polluters. If gasoline drops to $2, people tend to drive more and buy bigger cars.
Another obstacle to implementing a carbon tax is the war many on the right are waging against government. They want to eliminate all taxation and therefor all government. They do not want to accept that government is the prime builder and financier of public infrastructure. I don’t think many of them even accept the concept of public infrastructure.
The technology now exists to make huge inroads to reducing carbon emissions. We don’t have to wait for magical new technologies. They will come, but their arrival would happen sooner if we had a carbon tax to fund the public infrastructure that can develop and implement them.
Some kind of carbon tax is absolutely essential.
As long as large corporations keep lobbying in Washington non-stop, a carbon tax simply won’t work.
So, what is the one factor that drives the entire economy? Us, the consumers.
Consumers won’t stop consuming traditional sources of energy such as coal, unless they are convinced there is a better, more affordable and green alternative. On top of that, add the fact that a significant share of consumers today still deny the negative effects of climate change.
Luckily, giants like Ford are gradually starting to understand that there is no other way but to shift to green & renewable energy. Now, are they doing it for the noble cause of a better planet? They’re doing it to stay in business by 2050. All in all, as more companies join Ford in being green, no matter for what reason, mission accomplished.
A carbon tax is a necessity but I am not sure how Americans could get that through their current political system. It could be made revenue neutral but even that may not work with our current congress. The best means of CO2 reduction is increased efficiency which is happening but that will only go so far. The so called green & renewable energy will only go so far. Most of it comes from hydroelectric and there is not much more capacity for new hydroelectric plants. The price of solar is coming down so solar will contribute more.
However, most of America’s CO2 free power comes from nuclear power plants. I think that if you understand basic engineering and math, there is no way to not have most of base load power come from nuclear power if we are to have a carbon free power system. There are new proposed nuclear power systems that are passively safe (a total power failure will not cause a meltdown) and have almost no waste. In fact, at least one of the proposed systems, the traveling wave reactor, which has backing from Bill Gates will actually burn the existing nuclear waste as fuel.