The carbon-tax problem: ‘100 corporations supposedly are responsible for 75 per cent of carbon emissions’

WUWT reader Cam_S writes:

William Watson: Even a Nobel-winning carbon-tax economist admits carbon taxes have problem

Uncertainty, costs and modelling all present challenges in terms of a carbon tax system, according to William Nordhaus

According to a recent study, 100 corporations supposedly are responsible for 75 per cent of carbon emissions. Isn’t that great news? Just find the CEOs, lock them up and our climate problems are solved. Ain’t green social justice grand?

National Post reporter Stuart Thomson did an excellent job recently of skewering the lock-up-the-villains strategy, which relies, for example, on essentially holding ExxonMobil responsible for the fact that Americans drive gasoline-powered cars.

These are corporations that produce goods and services that we ordinary, non-plutocrat folk consume and in many instances regard — quite rightly — as essential to how we live. You can turn all 100 businesses into non-profit co-operatives if you want or even nationalize them all, but so long as they keep doing what they’re doing in the way they’re accustomed to doing it, carbon output won’t change.

Read the rest at:

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October 17, 2018 10:13 am

I didn’t know China had corporations………..

Reply to  Latitude
October 17, 2018 4:32 pm

They do. It’s just that their corporations are owned by the government.

October 17, 2018 10:29 am

I think prominent Dems like Schumer need to be pictured holding the carbon tax sign, not some faceless figure.

October 17, 2018 10:30 am

Nationalize them? Ah, the liberal dream.

Reply to  Jimmy
October 17, 2018 12:39 pm

There’s nothing liberal in a socialist.

October 17, 2018 10:49 am

From the linked article, at the very end:

. The problem, which is just as hard as climate change but a lot older, is figuring out how to bind governments to modest ambitions and revenue neutrality. The big brain that figures that one out will deserve a Nobel of its own, at least one.

But why? This is the very example of a solution looking for a problem. Just say NO.

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
October 17, 2018 6:42 pm

“Even a Nobel-winning carbon-tax economist”…

All this proves is that the Swedes who decide the Nobel Prizes are imbeciles…

James Bull
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
October 17, 2018 10:39 pm

Or you could just tell them to “Stop it”

James Bull

October 17, 2018 10:50 am

Back in 2001 there were some that said that Global Warming was a communist inspired piece of drama. While I didn’t think it was a conspiracy at the time, I certainly think so now. There is no meeting among them where a communist government would be better than a democracy…. to save the world…. that only applies to western societies, not the poorer ones who have been under the yoke of depots for years.
This isn’t about saving the planet, it’s about how quickly they can trash the US. All under the guise of ” scientists say’…. gosh, jee willikers, what more proof do I need!
I think I can understand why California wants to split into several smaller states. The wing nuts must be living in a certain geographical area that are controlling the government. But then it worked out so well in California that the crazies are moving to Colorado and attempting to enforce the same ‘save the planet’ on us. Zombies are still zombies, no matter where they walk around.
Another communist tactic, ‘the problem isn’t being caused by the poor, down trodden masses, it’s those rich cats that are doing it’ . The previous, think globally, act locally didn’t happen… either.

Reply to  rishrac
October 17, 2018 11:48 pm

rishrac – I call them Marxists, but same same…

Here is how modern politics works:

The far-left is winning, especially in the developing world, where over 100 countries are pseudo-Marxist dictatorships, based on their leftist phony rhetoric, but are actually just military dictatorships, run for the ruling elite and their armed thugs – see Zimbabwe and Venezuela… and North Korea, and many more..

The left gains political power by promising imbeciles lots of free stuff. Then they destroy the economy, create widespread poverty and live like kings atop a ruined state – because you can’t be kings without lots of peasants.

It is really no different in the developed world. Get elected by lazy greedy imbeciles, destroy the economy with fake green energy and other crazy policies, and live like kings on top of a ruined economy, looking down on all the peasants.

October 17, 2018 10:59 am

The top 4 are:

1 China (Coal) 14.32%
2 Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) 4.50%
3 Gazprom OAO 3.91%
4 National Iranian Oil Co 2.28%

Anyone want to suggest how to make them pay?

Joe Crawford
Reply to  BillP
October 17, 2018 11:26 am

Looks like that group are already government owned and operated. All you need to do is partition them. I’m sure they will respond appropriately. :<)

Reply to  BillP
October 17, 2018 12:52 pm

Pay what, pay why – CO2 is irrelevant in AGW, MMGW, GW, and now in 2018 its new name as climate change.

Robert W Turner
October 17, 2018 11:10 am

“You can turn all 100 businesses into non-profit co-operatives if you want or even nationalize them all, but so long as they keep doing what they’re doing in the way they’re accustomed to doing it, carbon output won’t change.”

Na, I’m pretty sure if that happened then there wouldn’t be much commerce going on and thus not much carbon emissions. It would probably be the quickest way to cut emissions, much like cutting off your head would get rid of a headache.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
October 17, 2018 11:18 am

Cutting emissions that quickly or cutting off one’s head would result in the same result for most people. Do we really want to go back to the pre industrial 1800’s?

Reply to  Robert W Turner
October 17, 2018 12:26 pm

Robert W Turner

Nationalisation was a disaster in the UK. The waste was appalling because people truly believed they could nick anything they wanted because it was their money that was paying for it.

The unions ran the ‘businesses’ and the River Clyde shipbuilding industry went into freefall because the unions wouldn’t accept modern manufacturing methods that meant redundancies. They needed the modern methods to compete against the fare eastern shipbuilders who adopted the technology but not unions.

Car manufacture in the UK was another example. British Leyland was a complete disaster, British Steel another, the list goes on. British rail (and successors) was still operating ‘slam door’ carriages into the 1990’s at least (y’know, the types in the British 1940’s black and white movies with the distinctive sound when closed, Harry Potter style) which were all dangerous and disgusting to ride on.

It’s said that the quickest way to lose money is to buy a motor racing team, that’s a lie. The quickest way to lose money is by nationalising a business.

October 17, 2018 11:17 am

Actually, not a single corporation is responsible for carbon emissions.

There are 7.6 billion consumers on the planet that are responsible for carbon emissions.

It is easier to blame a faceless corporation however, rather than for the typical warmist to look in the mirror and realize they are the problem, and look around the table at breakfast, lunch and dinner and realize all their friends and family are also the problem. Nope. it’s the corporation, not the people!

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  ShanghaiDan
October 17, 2018 11:50 am

THERE IS NO PROBLEM. The atmosphere needs more CO2 NOT less.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  ShanghaiDan
October 17, 2018 12:23 pm

Best comment! You are 100% right.

October 17, 2018 11:22 am

The other problem with carbon taxes is that it helps preserve the wealth of the rich because the vast majority of the carbon tax revenue would come from the middle class. Reason for this is that there are way more middle class people than rich people.

Douglas Proctor
October 17, 2018 11:29 am

Problem? Think about this: if the world governments and international agencies can’t work with 100 corporations on CO2 mitigation, how can they with 6 billion individuals?

Climate change as a social or political issue is of zero importance to the global elite and governors except for virtue signaling and profiteering. The McKibbens don’t get it. Gore and Mann do, though.

Reply to  Douglas Proctor
October 17, 2018 11:55 am

Climate Change is an issue of zero importance with most individuals as well. Haven’t you seen to recent polling data? Climate Change got less than 1% in polling as an “important issue”.

Gore and Mann are greedy aholes feeding off the Public Teet. Nothing more, but perhaps a lot less.

Linda Goodman
Reply to  Douglas Proctor
October 17, 2018 12:01 pm

You forgot full-spectrum dominance – the wet dream of the global elite. Control energy, control the world.

October 17, 2018 11:36 am

So they are taxing the air we breath but people don’t care because corporations are paying the tax? And it’s going to pay for what? About twice a year I get a “climate rebate” on my electricity bill to use at my discretion but they “hope” I use it to buy products that reduce my electricity consumption. As near as I can tell this is excess money the state government has from cap and trade extortion. By state law they must use the money for renewable energy projects and they ran out of projects to waste it on. So they give it to the private consumers of electricity who had their rates increased to …. hold on …. pay for renewable energy projects. Talk about a circle jerk.

Joel O'Bryan
October 17, 2018 11:39 am

Bill Watson (the Op-Ed writer at FP) writes:
“OK, but how do we prevent a big new revenue stream like carbon taxes from leading to big new government departments regulating many other aspects of our lives?

Though Nordhaus devotes a couple of chapters to the politics of carbon pricing, they don’t satisfactorily answer that question. The problem, which is just as hard as climate change but a lot older, is figuring out how to bind governments to modest ambitions and revenue neutrality. The big brain that figures that one out will deserve a Nobel of its own, at least one.”

Just assuming there is,
1) indeed a CO2 emissions problem, and
2) that carbon taxes could fix the problems associated with Climate Change by reducing emission,
then I can answer that with a rational proposal.

In order to keep government from growing, the taxes would have to be devoted to a quasi-independent agency, like a sort of Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA built and and now operats hydroelectric, coal, gas, and nuclear-power facilities that initially provided electricity to Southern communities starting the 30’s.

The clear charter of the Nuclear Power Authority would be to build a nation-wide network of new modern nuclear reactors. Since it would be part of the nation-wide grid of interstate power, no state could oppose federal government licensing, construction, or the building of transmission connector lines. Ownership after construction would be shared 50:50 with the local power utility. The carbon tax money could not be used for any other purpose, that would hard coded into the enabling law and charter. And absolutely no carbon tax money to extraneously “save the fish or birds” or build unreliable, renewable stupid power sources like wind or solar.

And since the Authority would initially live on carbon taxes it would be a self-limiting economic model. As those carbon tax revenue went down over the 60 years as the use of fossil fuels diminished, the Authority’s carbon tax funding would also slowly diminish. Also in the charter would be the requirement that revenue from nuclear power sales would be re-invested back into future nuclear construction.

In effect, the carbon tax would be the bootstrap to get the Authority up and running, with power sales from nuclear plants then providing the investment funding for continued construction after the economy had transitioned away from fossil fuels.

October 17, 2018 11:49 am

Tax stupidity. Because ‘the stupid, it burns…’ and evidently breeds. Therefore stupidity = sustainable. Now where’s my prize?

Linda Goodman
October 17, 2018 11:54 am

When AGW skeptics use terms like ‘carbon emissions’ and debate the ‘pros’ and cons of a carbon tax, they LEGITIMIZE this monstrous fraud. Are they controlled opposition slowly bringing us closer to ‘consensus’? Are true climate realists frogs in the pot?

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Linda Goodman
October 17, 2018 1:25 pm

You are right Linda. Taxing a problem that doesnt exist is madness . Rescind the unnecessary nuclear regulations and let private industry build the nuclear plants.

Joel Snider
October 17, 2018 12:12 pm

So who cares? This is presented as if that’s some kind of problem. Let ’em put out all the emissions they want. Forget about the entire issue and never worry about it again.

Alan Tomalty
October 17, 2018 12:16 pm

In Canada the top 620 emitters only put out 37% of the CO and GHG emissions. If they all pay the tax the same out of CO2 gets put into the air and if they all switch to a non carbon fuel source like hydro electricity, the resultant lowering of world temperature in a 100 years will be 0.0003375 of a degree C. Does anybody have a thermometer that can measure that? I checked with an industrial supplier of highly accurate thermometers and they said the best accuracy they sell is 0.05 degrees C. All the highly accurate thermometers used in government astrophysical labs are specially made. So since global temperatures are measured with commercially based thermometers, the IPCC cant measure Canada’s contribution to the reduction in global temperature.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
October 17, 2018 12:17 pm

“amount” instead of “out”

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
October 17, 2018 1:47 pm

Should have said CO2 instead of CO.

Bryan Anderson
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
October 17, 2018 7:05 pm

And, If Canadian industries do switch to carbon free sources of energy the government won’t be able to collect their carbon tax either

Bryan A
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
October 17, 2018 7:08 pm

And if Canadian industries do manage to switch to carbon free energy sources without affecting their production quotas, the Canadian Government won’t be able to collect their carbon tax

Alan Tomalty
October 17, 2018 12:19 pm

I am wondering what the accuracy is of the UAH tropospheric temperature data set is?

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
October 17, 2018 1:38 pm

I checked Roy Spencer’s site. One major criticism is that UAH never seem to give their error/uncertainty range with each anomaly. I did find one mention of uncertainty being + – 0.04 which is not much better than commercial industrial thermometers. So I repeat; Canada is attempting to lower the world’s temperature by 0.000375 of a degree and nobody is measuring with that accuracy. Absolute madness.

October 17, 2018 12:19 pm

1. Implement Carbon Tax
2. Prices go sky high. stratospheric high,
3. production. services move over seas,
4. Carbon emissions stay the same.

October 17, 2018 12:22 pm

“The Carbon Tax Problem”

The big problem is that they are trying to tax the wrong element. The two biggest GHGs in the atmosphere are H2O and CO2. And what do they have in common? Oxygen! So what we really need is an Oxygen Tax; that will solve all of our Climate Change problems!!! (/sarc)

Don Pettygrove
October 17, 2018 12:35 pm

The U.S. is the ONLY western country that has reduced carbon emissions…all without mandatory changes. If they were a danger, we would have done our part. When will all the other countries in the world follow suit? As long as China and India continue to emit carbon, nothing will change.

October 17, 2018 2:25 pm

Andy misleadingly writes: “According to a recent study, 100 corporations supposedly are responsible for 75 per cent of carbon emissions. Isn’t that great news? Just find the CEOs, lock them up and our climate problems are solved. Ain’t green social justice grand?”

However, if one reads on in the cited article: As Nordhaus puts it, speaking about carbon taxes: “From an economic point of view … it does not make any difference whether the producer, the refiner, or the gas station pays. The carbon price will be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices, and the impact on the price of gasoline or other goods does not depend upon who writes the check (for the tax).”

No one will be locked up.

Continuing: “Nordhaus argues that pricing carbon, despite the unknowns involved, is much better than regulation, “which would involve literally thousands of technologies and millions of decisions.” If nothing is done until the pressure of action is overwhelming, the Democrats are going to implement widespread intrusive inefficient mandates – just like they did with ObamaCare to solve the “crisis” of a few people losing health insurance or being unable to buy health insurance when they have a serious pre-existing condition.

William Watson then asks: “OK, but how do we prevent a big new revenue stream like carbon taxes from leading to big new government departments regulating many other aspects of our lives?”

The simplest way is to demand that all anticipated carbon taxes be fully rebated (via direct deposit at the BEGINNING of every month) equally to every citizen on the theory that we all “own” the air and climate. It will be very hard for lobbyists to negotiate exemptions for special interests when every citizen pays a carbon tax every time he fills up and pays his electric bill. (In contrast to cap-and-trade.) At first, the less-affluent (who typically use less fossil fuel) will receive more than the tax they pay, the affluent less, and the average citizen will break even. As behavior evolves, the proceeds to be rebated will shrink, and the average citizen who does nothing will begin paying a net tax. One could even imagine a carbon tax that increases with warming or SLR.

Just because a carbon tax could be implemented badly doesn’t mean the concept is flawed. It just means that it should be implemented properly – or not at all. Which also means that we need to protect domestic producers from foreign competition where there is no carbon tax and rebate the tax on exported goods.

Bryan A
Reply to  Frank
October 17, 2018 7:16 pm

I have to ask given your response
Did you yourself read the article quoted from the Financial Post?
If you did, you would realize that it wasn’t Andy or Anthony who wrote the words you took issue to in your opening paragraph. It was the articles author William Watson that penned that particular suggestion

Reply to  Bryan A
October 18, 2018 3:01 am

Bryan: I did read the FP article. Re-reading, you are correct, the opening paragraph of the FP article contains the quote I complained about. The rest of the article is on quite a different topic and by the time I got to the end, I had forgotten the lead paragraph. My apologies.

So the question is: Who actually advocated locking up the executives of fossil fuel companies as a solution to climate change. Nordhaus doesn’t. Andy doesn’t tell us. Watson doesn’t tell us. The Stuart Thompson link in Watson’s article sends us to the “Carbon Major’s Report”:

It doesn’t advocate locking up any CEO’s. I suspect the info in this report is to be used to target companies of shareholder resolutions, warn “green investors” and mutual funds, and inform crusading officials – as if customer demand for fossil fuels wouldn’t exist in the absence of a few villains.

Perhaps a tweet suggested locking up the villains.

I commented (mistakenly as you pointed out) because I was frustrated that Andy chose to highlight unsourced nonsense, rather than Norhaus’s positions – which are far more sensible and intellectually honest than most, especially the ludicrous and arbitrary 1.5 and 2 degC limits. Thanks again for commenting on my mistake.

Reply to  Frank
October 17, 2018 8:48 pm

Another solution is rationing of fossil fuels but there is NO MONEY in rationing. Those who advocate carbon taxes should be called on this issue for even proposing carbon taxes.

Taxing carbon is demand side management and so is rationing.

Advocates of carbon taxes want the money to advance their agenda.

IainC of The Ponds
October 17, 2018 6:44 pm

This is a solution looking for a problem. Thanks to these 100 mighty saviours, billions have been raised out of poverty into a bounteous plenty unimaginable for millions of years until now and, if allowed, will benefit many more billions in the next 50 years. We, the 97% who respect and praise progress, civilization and technology, salute you.
Of course, if you subliminally hate the Third World and don’t want them to live as well as the rest of us because it might bring an extra millimetre of ocean level rise a year until we all switch to fusion power too cheap to meter in 2100, well, there’s no accounting for a lack of a social conscience.

October 17, 2018 9:11 pm

The basic assumption that GHG “emissions” are bad is false.
Emissions are good, CO2 is not pollution.
Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere is good for all life on Earth.
Higher CO2 levels will have no quantifiable impact on any weather patterns, precipitation, temps etc. on any time scale.
Glacial ice core data show that changes in CO2 concentration always follow temperature changes on climatic time scales.

Joe Banks
October 17, 2018 10:58 pm

How much CO2 does it take to fly a bunch of scientists all around the globe to fight globull warming. Add to that the amount of CO2 it takes to run icebreakers to go save them when they are stuck in the non existent ice. Not to mention running models on super computers to see how much they can make it appear to be warming. Plus all the driving to resite UCHN stations from where they belong to parking lots, ends of runways, and next to AC units. All these useless activities being stopped could darken I say it save the universe.

October 18, 2018 1:00 am

There should be no additional revenues for governments – money raised from a carbon tax should be offset by tax reductions elsewhere. The point of a carbon tax is to price carbon emissions “correctly” not to increase government revenue.

By pricing emissions correctly, we emit the amount we are happy to pay for.

Reply to  Phoenix44
October 18, 2018 10:59 pm

Phoenix, how stupid are you?
The income tax was to fight Napolean. It started at a shilling in the pound – 0.5%. It rose all the way up to 95% in the 1960’s. That’s what the Beatles were singing about – “there’s one for you, nineteen for me.”

Johann Wundersamer
October 18, 2018 5:09 am

Who knew National Post reporter Stuart Thomson feels responsible for whatever corporations in China.

or if a bicycle fell over in Chicago.

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