A ‘Carbon Fee’ Will Not Save Hawaii from Climate Change

From ClimateREALISM

By Linnea Lueken

A recent story in the Honolulu Civil Beat claims that climate change in Hawaii, driven by fossil-fuel use, is damaging the islands, a problem that can be solved by imposing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. These claims are demonstrably false. Climate change is not causing unusual damage to Hawaii, and carbon fees will only hurt residents, shifting emissions—and the jobs that produce them—elsewhere, and have no impact on climate.

In the article, “Climate Change Requires Policy Change,” the author claims that climate change is caused by human fuel burning. In reality, the Earth’s climate changes regardless of human activity.

The author writes, “Of course, you should recycle, compost, use a reusable water bottle, etc., but climate change is the result of decades of burning fossil fuels and even giving them subsidies.”

The past has been both much warmer and cooler, with no human burning of fuels involved, as discussed on Climate Realism herehere, and here, for example. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that current CO2 levels are where they were about 3.6 million years ago, as reported in at Climate Realism here. Yet today’s sea levels are nowhere near what they were then, and Earth’s average temperature during that time was 7 degrees higher than it is today.

Data presented in Climate at a Glance: Sea Level Rise shows average sea levels are currently rising at approximately the same rate they have since the end of the last ice age. Figure 1 below shows sea level rise in Honolulu has been relatively constant for the last hundred years at about 1.55mm per year, adding up to a half foot per hundred years, which is half as much as the average global rate since the mid-1800s.

Figure 1 Data and Chart from NOAA Tides and Currents https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?id=1612340#

The Hawaiian Islands are formed by a volcanic “hot spot” which remains stationary while the Pacific Plate moves north-west. Because of this motion, the southmost islands are youngest, while the Leeward Islands in the chain are oldest. The plate moves slowly over the hot spot, carrying islands away, and without new lava adding to them, they slowly succumb to the erosion of waves and tides, and eventually are submerged entirely. Every island of Hawaii as we know it will eventually be gone, with new islands replacing them. No anthropogenic cause required.

To prevent climate change induced damage, the author endorsed imposing a tax on carbon dioxide.

Policies like a carbon fee or tax suffer from “Pollution leakage,” meaning that because the products—in this case fuel, electricity, and goods—are so essential, they will still be produced elsewhere as manufacturers move operations overseas. This results in no net reduction in emissions.

The carbon tax will not reduce emissions, but, as Climate at a Glance: Carbon Dioxide Taxes shows, a carbon dioxide tax is highly regressive, dramatically increasing energy bills, fuel costs, and the prices for goods and services, which harm poor and middle income households the most.

Hawaii already has the highest cost of living of any other state, with much more expensive utilities and groceries than the national average. A plan that involves making electricity, groceries, and fuel costs in Hawaii even more expensive is not helpful for the poor there.

The admitted goal of the program would be to make petroleum-based fuel sources so expensive, that electric vehicles and other “renewables” become more relatively more affordable. It will not reduce the absolute price for those goods, however, and will harm Hawaii’s economy as a whole. Hawaii depends entirely on fossil fuel transport—most of their food comes from non-Hawaiian sources, and must arrive by ship or plane. Tourism, Hawaii’s largest industry, is predicated in part on affordable airline tickets, which will obviously become more costly with carbon taxes, and could lead to reduced tourism. According to the Energy Information Administration, jet fuel makes up almost three-fifths of Hawaii’s petroleum consumption.

It is absurd to levy this sort of regressive tax on people, potentially destroying household budgets in a state that is already extremely expensive to live in. This absurdity is redoubled when that tax is meant to prevent the climate from changing, which the action won’t do. Even if carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to climate change, as The Heartland Institute’s new study, “Climate at a Glance for Teachers and Students: Facts on 30 Prominent Climate Topics,” shows, this is no cause for alarm. As importantly, in 2018, Hawaii produced 1.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. By comparison, China produced 28 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each day, 21 times more carbon dioxide each day than Hawaii emits in a year. As a result, any contribution Hawaii’s carbon dioxide emissions are making to climate change is so small, the carbon tax will have no noticeable effect whatsoever on climate.

Linnea Lueken


Linnea Lueken is a Research Fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy. While she was an intern with The Heartland Institute in 2018, she co-authored a Heartland Institute Policy Brief “Debunking Four Persistent Myths About Hydraulic Fracturing.”

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Johne Morton
May 1, 2022 10:44 pm

Figure 1 below shows sea level rise in Honolulu has been relatively constant for the last hundred years at about 1.55mm per year, adding up to a half foot per hundred years, which is half as much as the average global rate since the mid-1800s.”

It’s worse than I thought…at that rate, in ten thousand years, my state capital, Denver, will no longer be the Mile High City (5280 ft.), but only 5230. Clearly this is an “existential” thing or something…

Reply to  Johne Morton
May 2, 2022 9:07 am

It is not worse than you thought and your alarm is misplaced.
The Rocky Mountains are still growing to some extent so that will reduce your SLR relative to Denver. But the article states the 1.55 mm/yr. is only a bit over half the global average, so SLR is likely to be larger at your West coast reference point. So it is OK to go ahead and panic after all.

{Just here to help}

Ngallendou Dieye
Reply to  Johne Morton
May 2, 2022 9:37 pm

Assuming that tectonic plate movements will not raise land masses or lower sea beds. All of our climate hoaxers cheat by not dealing with all land and sea level factors.

Reply to  Johne Morton
May 3, 2022 5:08 pm

also not worry there will another little ice BY THEN….

Reply to  roy
May 3, 2022 10:43 pm

In other words, Denver will be 1 mile under water, frozen water.

May 1, 2022 10:52 pm

Another example of journalists not being held to even the smallest standard. They claim burning fossil fuels damages Hawaii with no evidence of what damage is being done and no evidence of how burning fossil fuels can damage Hawaii. Worse they claim a tax can fix the problem, no evidence showing how a tax can fix a make believe problem. These people are worse than despicable. I don’t understand how they can print outright lies and pretend it is honest reporting.

Reply to  Bob
May 3, 2022 10:45 pm

You are still stuck in the mid to late 1700s, newspaper wise.

May 1, 2022 11:03 pm

Looked at the FRED site for Washington State total CO2 Production, 77 million tons in 2019. That is about 1.6% of the US emissions, which is 15% of global emissions. So, what would going to zero emissions do? Zip-nada. But it would destroy the state economy.

Reply to  Brad
May 2, 2022 7:45 am

But it would destroy the state economy.

Inslee doesn’t care. Notice how the gas tax hasn’t been suspended? Democrats don’t care about the cost of fuel being so high because that’s a feature, not a failure.


It makes me sick when I hear people say things like “Democrats care about the poor” because virtually everything they do hurts poor people.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  ihfan
May 2, 2022 9:25 am

Demonrats must care about the poor; they do everything they can to create more of them!

Reply to  Brad
May 3, 2022 10:46 pm

And to what to the state’s people?

May 1, 2022 11:40 pm

Surely they aren’t that stupid to understand that the increases in China, India and developing nations will swamp anything they do locally. All they can do is virtue signal and pray which given current politics is a rank long shot. Emissions will rise 5% this year alone.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  LdB
May 2, 2022 12:53 am

Yes, they can be that stupid- they wear 2 pairs of rose colored glasses in case one falls off-
& please, don’t call me Shirley! 😮 😉


Actually, I think it’s “practice makes perfect”- it’s made them great at ignoring facts & telling lies!

Mike Dubrasich
May 1, 2022 11:50 pm

IMO, Linnea Lueken has become one of the best climate realist essayists/analysts. Kudos to LL and Heartland. KUTGW

May 1, 2022 11:55 pm

62% of Hawaii’s electricity is from fossil fuel. What is the point of electric cars?

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Terry
May 2, 2022 1:27 am

The Ministry of Truth will want to talk to you, thoughtcriminal.

Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 2, 2022 6:36 am

She will sing you a song about the virtues of riding a bike

Reply to  Terry
May 2, 2022 1:41 am

And all of that imported at great cost…

Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 3:30 am

They have no choice.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 5:20 am

At an even greater cost now that Biden is in office.

Flash Chemtrail
Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 6:18 am

As you say, fuel has to be imported at great cost. Isn’t Hawaii the perfect test case for renewable energy? So why haven’t they completely transitioned to cost effective renewable energy already instead of constantly bleating about it? Could it be that it simply is not possible?

Reply to  Flash Chemtrail
May 2, 2022 7:49 am

Renewables are supposed to be too cheap to meter! So cheap, in fact, that 100% of Hawaii’s electricity is generated using inexpensive and abundant renewables!

Oh wait, oops, renewables aren’t cheaper and not abundant. I wonder why? Perhaps renewable intermittent power is more costly than importing oil?

Reply to  ihfan
May 2, 2022 9:44 am

Nah – you’re over-thinking it.

As Flash says – they just aren’t up to the job.

End of story.

Reply to  ihfan
May 3, 2022 10:50 pm

No, the “renewables” are so cheap that adopting them would hurt the evil electricity generators. Their profits would plummet because they could not continues selling power at such high prices. Therefore they secretly insure the non-adoption of wind and solar while they publicly decry the lack of same.

Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 7:06 am

Once again… you badly miss the point!

Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 5:06 pm

Everything is imported at great cost… except pineapples.

May 2, 2022 1:32 am

Oh, noooo!
I feel so sorry for poor Mark & missus
Mark Zuckerberg first purchased 750 acres of land for $100 million on Kauai in 2014 before acquiring another 600 acres for $53 million in May. May’s purchase included a public beach and cattle ranch.

May 2, 2022 1:40 am

The past has been both much warmer and cooler, with no human burning of fuels involved, 

Yes, but now there is a new, additional climate driver, human CO2, acting on top of pre-existing climate drivers and causing a severe impact to the climate.

Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 1:45 am

Hi Griffo
You can always stop exhaling “human CO2″ (quote). We would be sorry to miss your contributions but then you would be making a ‘worthy’ sacrifice for ‘the cause’.
Only joking, ignorant kids should not attempt to do that at home.

Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 2:40 am

Griff, since you just agreed it was warmer in the past with no human burning of fossil fuels, can you specifically identify the driver that made it warmer in the past that is not working now?

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  mkelly
May 2, 2022 10:12 am

I too noticed this flaw in Griff’s logic (assuming he is capable of thinking logically). How does he know that there is a human component to today’s warming when he acknowledges that it was warmer in the Earth’s ancient/prehistoric past?

Warmists like Griff seem to be incapable of thinking for themselves, and merely provide “output” that is consistent with the programming they have received as robots from the high priests of the CAGW faith.

The notion that science is not infallible never occurs to them. It’s blind faith all the way.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
May 2, 2022 10:47 am

Hey, if griff wants science to work in two opposite ways when he wants it to, who are you at agrue?

Reply to  mkelly
May 3, 2022 10:52 pm

Bigger lizards breathed out more CO2.

Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 3:31 am

Back on your meds Griff

Dale S
Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 6:21 am

The “severe impact to the climate” is a mild warming which makes the rest of the world a little bit more like Hawaii. Sadly, only a little bit more.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Dale S
May 3, 2022 3:05 am

It’s not very warm around here.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 6:52 am

“a new, additional climate driver, human CO2”

BREAKING NEWS– “Humans have just started exhaling”

We must have awful big lungs! 😮

Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 7:11 am

Are you implying that CO2 from industry is “different” than that from nature? Explain how an Ice Age occurred during the Carboniferous period… when CO2 levels were 10 times greater than they are currently.

Reply to  Gene
May 3, 2022 11:00 pm

The current ice age has gone through 21 (or 20 or 25, depending upon source) glacial/interglacial stages. The geologists claim is that there have been four previous ice ages, some or all much longer in duration than the current one (so far).

Do geological studies determine that each of these previous ices ages, or some of them, also went through alternating glacial/interglacial stages?

Rick C
Reply to  griff
May 2, 2022 9:52 am

Yes, global warming has been especially hard on Hawaii where the average annual temperature (~23C) is 8-9 C hotter than the global average. It’s made the entire state virtually unlivable. All life there is on an inexorable path to certain extinction. The good news is since the islands are clearly uninhabitable the human use of fossil fuels there should soon drop to zero.

Reply to  Rick C
May 2, 2022 5:13 pm

Where I lived in Manoa, there was no furnace or air conditioner in the building because it was not needed. The climate was perfect.

Reply to  griff
May 3, 2022 3:38 am

After all this time you don’t even have the alarmist line down Griff. It is not “on top of” but interacting with to cause a death spiral!

Reply to  griff
May 5, 2022 11:29 am

Nonsense, of course – the moment you understand that at its ‘greenest’ the Earth was descending through over 2000 ppm of CO2 without planetary destruction, you’ll understand the climate scams are not based in reality (well, reality that doesn’t involve taxpayer graft and assigning permanent 3rd-world status to whole societies).

Old Man Winter
May 2, 2022 1:41 am

This is nothing more than a case of telling people a lie often enough until they believe it.
Formally, it’s called the Asch Conformity Experiment, which they’re using to get even more
power. That’s why total nonsense gets repeatedly told & has to be repeatedly debunked. It
isn’t that they believe it, it’s to make others believe it!!!


Peta of Newark
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 2, 2022 3:12 am

= The politics of the school playground
or = Lord of the Flies..
i.e. See there what happens if you are ‘different’ and persist in holding your own ground. See also, round here, the treatment of Greta

No-one is immune.
Except Mr Trump. He had empathy, he ‘understood’ and he told it ‘as was’, he could see liars coming from a million miles off and within himself, was strong enough to be scrupulously honest.
See what happened to him. = Classic ‘Lord of the Flies’

Western Society is in a self-reinforcing tail-spin right now, it that can only end in one horrendous crash
While the ‘self-reinforcing’ bit means only a very small trigger is needed……..
A bit like what happened to the Lithium battery in the bus we saw yesterday.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 2, 2022 5:47 am

You may already know there actually were six Tongan school boys who got shipwrecked
after stealing a boat & the result was quite different than “The Lord of the Flies”- from the
Gruniad, no less:


With Greta, her parents needed to have intervened with at least having a travelling
companion as part of her problem is the inability to read people- especially since so much
fame, fortune & power were involved. That was way too much even for most of us adults
to be able to handle! She was left to eaten up by the wolves!

As for the MAGA MAN, he no one favors & they had no dirt on him to control him. both the
Dems & the RINOs needed to manufacture some dirt by trying to entrap at least one of his
foreign policy specialists- Carter Page or George Papadopoulos. Since neither of them bit,
they resorted to the PeePee Tape Hoax which is especially hilarious as El Trumpo is a

With all the opportunities to lie, I think he’s honest because he was in a tough real estate
business dealing with people who wanted dirt on him & knew extra “ears & eyes” would
record everything he did. Being honest was the only way to go. He’s calling for Russia &
Ukraine to negotiate but methinks other parties don’t want that cuz it’s a great scapegoat!

The leaders of the West may be deliberately trying to commit suicide, but they’re not
succeeding that well yet. Stay tuned!

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 2, 2022 6:47 am

“he no one favors” s/b “he owed no one favors”

Methane-free “brain belch”

May 2, 2022 4:07 am

A one party( democrat) state. This won’t go well for them.

May 2, 2022 4:34 am

Hawaii always has some of the highest gas prices in America. Today, it’s $5.29.

You’d think, if there were any place that didn’t need a carbon tax to discourage fossil fuel consumption, it would be Hawaii.

While I was googling for the Hawaii gas price, I came across this.

Top Democrats push for federal crackdown on high gas prices

So, they think gas prices are too high but they want a carbon tax. ROTFL

Tom Abbott
Reply to  commieBob
May 2, 2022 5:24 am

“So, they think gas prices are too high”

Only until the elections are over.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 2, 2022 6:37 am

You’re better than Karnak the Magnificent:

“Democrats propose federal gas tax holiday ahead of midterm elections”

It’s a YUGE deal for Dems not to collect taxes. The far left will nix it & blame
the GOP for raising taxes. 😮

May 2, 2022 4:46 am

I think her data is for Hawaiian coal generated output. Total annual CO2 is about 20 M metric tons. Not that it matters anyway.

May 2, 2022 4:50 am

New Zealand is currently undergoing a sea level rise propaganda blitz with claims of land subsidence combined with exaggerated sea level rise and spin about keeping temp under 2 degrees .The fear of covid has gone so this is the next wave

Reply to  H B
May 2, 2022 5:16 pm

Maybe NZ should worry more about their Volcanic future.

Bruce Cobb
May 2, 2022 4:56 am

Chad Blair sez:

I am graduating from UH Manoa this spring with a B.S. in global environmental science. I have learned from my years of study that the work required to combat climate change cannot be accomplished on an individual scale.

Chad is a wet-behind-the-ears brainwashed enviro ideologue and an idiot who just thinks he knows a lot about climate and science, when in fact he knows worse than nothing. All he knows are lies.

jeffery p
May 2, 2022 5:10 am

Despite (because of? Hawaii’s progressive policies and regressive taxes there is an abundance of poverty on the islands. Can the poor afford this?

I’m being obtuse, of course, Hawaii’s taxes are a major factor in the state’s poverty statistics. More taxes ain’t gonna make things better.

May 2, 2022 6:34 am

Carbon taxes are NOT a regressive tax on the poor. Why? Because as carbon taxes are increased, so too are government subsidies for the poor. So, you see, the carbon taxes are offset by taxes on the rich! The rich will pay for everyone’s unaffordable energy costs! I know this, because it’s what the Marxist Democrat Party has told me. AOC even wore a paper dress proclaiming “Tax the Rich”! Yeah! Make Elon Musk PAY my $750.00/mo. PG&E bill! Yeah! … uggh / sarc.

jeffery p
Reply to  Kenji
May 2, 2022 6:45 am

You have a valid point there — The poor won’t feel these taxes as much as feared because they will likely get another handout to pay for their costs.

But consider those who don’t want to be poor — this will only make it harder to climb out of the hole. By design.

Bruce Cobb
May 2, 2022 8:27 am

Even if you manage to remove the regressiveness of carbon taxes, they are still economy destroyers. Even more insidious though, is that they force a switch to Ruinables, damaging both the economy and our energy systems.

May 2, 2022 8:29 am

Looks like the Government Disinformation Board may have it’s first case.

May 2, 2022 8:32 am

Linnea ==> Nicely done.

Gordon A. Dressler
May 2, 2022 10:34 am

Let’s start with what percentage of worldwide total yearly emissions of anthropogenic CO2 can be attributed to the Hawaiian Islands.

You can stop right there.

jeffery p
May 2, 2022 10:53 am

Pray tell how Hawaii is going to collect those tourist bucks without fossil fuels? They should restrict travel to sailboats and outrigger canoes until somebody creates carbon-free air service.

Oh, and all that stuff imported to Hawaii to keep everyone alive? Say goodbye to it.

Joao Martins
May 2, 2022 12:18 pm

Fees never solve problems of natural goods or resources. They just limit their fruition to those who can afford paying.

May 2, 2022 1:36 pm

I am truly wondering why Hawaii has not built wind turbines all along the Pali to harvest those tradewinds that never stop blowing.

The visual scenery might suffer some, but it seems such a small price to pay when saving the islands

James W
Reply to  Doonman
May 3, 2022 12:18 am

Kauai has banned wind turbines because they are an aesthetic blight, are environmentally irresponsible, and would kill too many of the endangered species of seabirds we carefully nurture here.

Our island has a utility co-op that is committed to ultimately being 100% renewable, solar and hydro. I believe we are at 70% now. But we will continue using fossil-fueled generation in addition and as back-up. Solar is probably feasible here with our abundant sunshine, and our island’s central mountains are among the rainiest spots on the planet.

Matthew A. Siekierski
May 3, 2022 3:42 am

Policies like a carbon fee or tax suffer from “Pollution leakage,” meaning that because the products—in this case fuel, electricity, and goods—are so essential, they will still be produced elsewhere as manufacturers move operations overseas. This results in no net reduction in emissions.

Worse, it’s likely to result in a net increase in emissions, as operations move from places with stronger environmental protections to places with weaker rules. Plus there’s now additional transportation involved. So if you’re worried about emissions (not a completely unreasonable concern), this is just about the dumbest move that can be made. But, hey, as long as it’s NIMBY…

John the Econ
May 3, 2022 2:17 pm

Excellent. Hawaii has way too many people as it is. Increasing the cost of living further will force the non-affluent elsewhere, saving the natural splendor of the islands to for those who can truly appreciate it.

Is that the agenda, because I really don’t see any other here.

Reply to  John the Econ
May 3, 2022 11:22 pm

Move all the workers underground, and keep them there. That helps the scenery.

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