Regarding the Feb. 19 guest opinion, “A conservative solution to climate change,” by Steve Ghan.
Kudos to Ghan’s search for a bipartisan climate change solution. I would make three points concerning this proposed solution.
1) International trade “border adjustments” will essentially be an import tax, increasing the cost of most foreign goods purchased by Americans.
2) The tax starts at $40/ton of carbon and will increase 2 percent per year above inflation. Assuming 3 percent inflation, by 2040 this will add about $1.20 to the cost of a gallon of gas and about 5 cents/kilowatt hour to natural gas electricity. These rates are too low to meet the purpose of a carbon tax, i.e., to make renewables appear more economic, thus forcing out fossil fuels. Hence, the rates will probably be increased substantially in the future. Eventually Americans will be stuck with very high energy costs at the same time the “$2,000 dividend” goes to zero.
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3) And what is to be gained by this? By 2040 U.S. CO2 emissions reductions would reduce total CO2 in the atmosphere less than 3 ppm (from about 446 to 443 ppm). That’s it.
This will do nothing whatsoever to change the climate, e.g., lessen drought, reduce hurricanes, increase snowpack, etc., even if one chooses to believe climate model predictions.
Craig Brown, Richland