Guest commentary by David Middleton
Lessons to Learn From the Carbon Tax Backlash
By David Hart
December 21, 2018
The “yellow vest” protesters in France hate it. Four Canadian provinces, including the biggest one, Ontario, have refused to implement a national law requiring them to impose it. The state of Washington voted it down. Even “Green New Dealers” are shying away from it.
“It” is a carbon tax: the preferred solution to climate change of wonks worldwide. “[R]aising the price of carbon is a necessary and sufficient step for tackling global warming,” wrote the dean of climate change wonks, 2018 economics Nobelist William Nordhaus. “The rest is largely fluff.”
Uh oh. Raising the cost of dirty energy is the only way to avoid a climate catastrophe. Raising the price of dirty energy is politically impossible. If both of these statements are true, humanity is in serious trouble.
Fortunately, even Nobel Prize winners are sometimes wrong. There is an alternative solution: better energy technologies that radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a cost that is competitive with coal, oil, and natural gas. Some of them are already here: solar power that is 70 percent cheaper than in 2010 and wind power that is 50 percent cheaper. Others will be here within a decade: electric vehicles that are cheaper and better than gas-powered cars.
One big problem: These technologies aren’t being adopted quickly enough.
The climate and energy debate has been dominated by magical thinking for far too long. To be sure, the worst form of magical thinking is the fantasy that climate change is not a serious threat to human well-being. But the delusion that a carbon tax is the best or even the only way to avert the threat is almost as bad. Leaders who succumb to it waste valuable time that the world needs to develop and scale up solutions, and the backlash to it discredits climate advocacy in all its forms. It’s time to get real, and that means focusing on energy innovation.
David M. Hart (@ProfDavidHart) is a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and professor of public policy and director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government.
Professor Hart’s solution is to spend more money on Unicorn research rather than taxing carbon emissions. Just throw more money at it..
“Rescuing the Low-Carbon Energy Transition From Magical Thinking”… With More Magical Thinking
You really couldn’t make this sort of schist up if you were trying…
Rescuing the Low-Carbon Energy Transition From Magical Thinking
David M. Hart
October 27, 2016
To create a low-carbon energy system, we must overcome not just climate-change deniers, but also advocates of illusions such as the idea that all we need is a “science push,” carbon pricing, or more subsidies for existing technologies.
Current federal policy falls far short, in no small part because of magical thinking. After reviewing the four forms of magical thinking, the paper concludes by advancing an aggressive, smart low-carbon energy innovation-policy agenda. The key items on the agenda include:
- Establishing a dedicated funding source for federal low-carbon energy-innovation investments.
- Steadily expanding federal investment in basic research fields that have the potential to dramatically accelerate low-carbon energy innovation.
- Dramatically expanding federal co-investment in applied research, demonstration, and infrastructural technologies for low-carbon energy.
- Enhancing connectivity and strengthening user pull along the low-carbon energy-innovation chain.
- Fostering regional collaboration for innovation in large-scale, low-carbon energy systems.
- Reforming low-carbon energy tax incentives, so they are permanent and technology-neutral, and phasing out support for each generation of technology as it matures.
- Using federal procurement strategically to build momentum for early deployment of low-carbon energy innovations.
- Encouraging business-model and regulatory innovation in conjunction with technological innovation in the electricity and transportation sectors.
- Tightening energy efficiency and carbon-control regulations in a predictable, innovation-inducing manner.
If Gorebal Warming truly is an existential threat to humanity, just ban coal tomorrow. Replace it with natural gas and nuclear power. Massive chunk of the problem solved… if there actually was a problem in need of solving. We currently have the technology to totally replace coal fairly quickly.
The fact that Natural Gas-to-Nuclear is almost totally ignored by the Warmunists is prima facie evidence that Gorebal Warming is 97% politics.
Who is Professor David M. Hart?
Welcome to my personal home page. I’m a professor and director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy at George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government. I have two overlapping areas of specialization. One is technology, science, and innovation policy. I’m interested in the sources and implications of discoveries and inventions of all sorts, past and present. The other area is governance, at the regional, national, and global levels. I want to understand the processes by which policy-makers decide what to do. The two areas come together as I seek to comprehend how states, markets, individuals, and social groups interact to produce decisions about important new technological capabilities.
Ph.D., Department of Political Science, M.I.T., 1995.
B.A. with University Honors, Science in Society Program, Wesleyan University, 1983.