Different Approaches to a Solution to Climate Change
  1. Carbon Fee and Dividend
  2. Guilt and Virtue-Signaling
  3. Conservative Form of Carbon Tax
  4. Cap and Trade
  5. AOC / Sunrise "Green New Deal"
  6. "A Trillion Trees"
  7. Liberal Form of Carbon Tax
  8. Republican "Green Real Deal"
  9. Joe Biden's Climate Plan

Carbon Fee and Dividend

Carbon Fee and Dividend is the climate change solution that is most highly recommended by this organization. It is described on its own page.

Guilt and Virtue-Signaling:

We all just, as individuals, try to make personal choices to reduce our ecological footprint. We apply peer pressure to tell those who fail to do so and tell them that they are bad people, and try to guilt and shame them into compliance.

This approach is very popular with eco-hippies. At a typical hippie environmental meeting, there is a lot of talk about personal sacrifices that people are making as individuals to save the planet.

This can be effective for modest efforts. For example, in the early 1960's, everybody littered and thought nothing of it. Then, around 1970, we decided that that was socially unacceptable. But there were also laws passed against littering around that time. And part of the effort was making litter baskets available everywhere.

There are a number of problems with trying to solve global warming through this means:

  • American society is much worse fractured into warring tribes than it was in 1970. If one group applies peer pressure to do something, other groups will automatically react against it. For example, we couldn't even get everybody to wear masks on airplanes during the pandemic.
  • The amount of sacrifice needed for someone to bring their carbon emissions to zero right now, with current technology, is mind-boggling. It's basically unachievable. Faced with a challenge like that, many people will conclude that it's not feasible to lead an ethical life, give up completely, and utter depravity will result.

  • Conservative Form of Carbon Tax:

    Impose a fee on carbon, and have the government return all the money to the public in tax cuts, thus avoiding growth of the public sector.  Revenue Neutral.

    • Ideally, it should be a federal carbon fee, and there is no federal sales tax, so it can't be returned in a sales tax cut.  The cuts would have to be to corporate or income taxes.

    • The bottom 50% of the population pay almost no income tax, so they would get practically no tax relief, yet they would face higher energy costs without any help meeting those costs.  So this effort would be a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, which the left would never cooperate with.  And it is just generally politically infeasible to impose a scheme which would result in such a major hardship for such a large share of the voters.

    Cap and Trade:

    Issue "carbon credits" to factories, or to countries, or auction them off to the highest bidder, where a carbon credit is permission to emit a certain amount of greenhouse gases. This has been tried many times with varying success. Over time, the total amount of credits is reduced as emitters clean up their act.

    Sometimes the carbon credits are issued to polluters (be they factories, or countries) according to how much they were emitting before the scheme began.

    If an emitter is able to reduce emissions, they may have a surplus of carbon credits that they can sell to make money. If an emitter increases emissions, they need to find someone that they can buy credits from. So everyone has an incentive to reduce emissions.

    There have been cases where companies go bankrupt and shut their doors, but keep alive a shell company to receive their carbon credits, which they then sell.

    John McCain had cap and trade as part of his campaign platform when he ran for president in 2008.

    If the carbon credits are just arbitrarily given to companies, they become an arbitrary windfall and reward for past bad behavior. If they are auctioned off by the government, that can just amount to an awkward carbon tax funding the growth of the public sector.

    Most observers today agree that a carbon fee or tax is a better approach than cap and trade.

    • It is hard to predict the future demand for carbon credits, and thus hard to predict their future price, which makes it difficult for emitters to make plans.

    • The scheme is hard to tweak right, and can completely fail. Europe has a cap and trade scheme which basically failed -- emissions turned out to be lower than expected, and the price of a carbon credit dropped so low that it failed to provide the desired incentive. And a scheme can fail in the opposite direction, where the price of a carbon credit rises so high that it strangles the economy.

    Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez D-NY
    Far-Left Solution: AOC's "Green New Deal"

    The "Green New Deal" is covered on its own page.. It really has zero bipartisan potential -- if you don't hate the Green New Deal, either you haven't read it, or you're not a conservative.

    Republican Trial Balloon: "A Trillion Trees"

    The Republican "Trillion Trees" idea Covered on the Yale Climate Communications website authored by this group. It is a complete and total insult to the intelligence of the voters.

    Liberal Form of Carbon Tax:

    Impose a fee on carbon, and use the revenue for deficit reduction and to fund carbon-saving activity such as public transport, renewable energy, and a better long-distance power grid.  Often, they go so far as to say that some of the money should go to ends completely unrelated to climate change, just a laundry list of things the left would spend a windfall on.

    • The right will never, ever buy into this, because it grows the government.  And with the advent of Uber-type transport based on self-driving cars, it's not clear that traditional public transport will be the most desirable way to organize our cities.

    • Also, there will be inflation in the price of energy-intensive goods and services due to the carbon tax, and poor people will have difficulty making ends meet.

    • To eventually meet the desired reductions in carbon emissions a decade or two down the line, the tax will have to grow to several dollars per gallon of gasoline (several hundred dollars per ton of CO2).  It would be impossible to pass such a high tax as the first step, even if Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority in congress.  It needs to start low and gradually be raised. If, when the tax is introduced at much lower levels, the money is not returned to citizens, people will view it as a burden and there will never be a political constituency behind eventually raising it sufficiently for it to achieve the desired reduction in emissions.

    Endorsed By:

    Rep. Matt Gaetz R-FL
    Republican "Green Real Deal":

    Asserts that global warming is a serious problem warranting action.

    Text of Resolution

    Speaks about encouraging investment, but utterly vague about exactly how the desired investment is to be encouraged.

    Advocates nuclear energy and carbon capture & sequestration, which the AOC/Sunrise Green New Deal does not.

    Most of the actions advocated are in the form of deregulation and tax cuts.

    In contrast to the Green New Deal, it is actually entirely focused on climate change.

    • Lacks credibility in that it fails to mention any means whatsoever of discouraging people from burning as much fossil fuel as they want.

    Endorsed By:

    Vice President Joe Biden
    Democratic Presidential Candidate
    Joe Biden's Plan:

    Less detail than Jay Inslee's plan. No mention of a carbon tax.

    • Aim for a 100% carbon-free economy by 2050 via "an enforcement mechanism" whatever that means.
    • Invest in energy & climate research.
    • "If Congress falls short of its duty to act, Biden will hold them accountable.". He really said that. Like, what's he going to do -- spank them?
    • Aggressive limits on methane leakage from oil & gas operations.
    • Enhance fuel economy standards to get 100% of new light and medium vehicles electric.
    • Biofuels
    • Enhance building & appliance energy efficiency standards.
    • Requiring public companies to disclose GHG emissions.
    • Ban drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
    • Some reduce the carbon footprint of existing buildings by 50%. It will take a lot of work and a lot of money to do that, he's not clear who's going to pay for it.
    • Restore tax credits for electric cars, subsidize the creation of more charging stations for them.
    • Somehow mitigate urban sprawl so that people will have shorter commutes.
    • Somehow subsidize manufacturing
    • Subsidize more development of railroads, both passenger and freight
    • Rejoin the Paris Agreement and seek to organize more agreements
    • "Name and shame" high emissions countries (cough, cough -- right now, that's us!)
    • Organize a worldwide ban on fossil fuel subsidies
    • Help the former coal mining communities.

    Biden will invest in research to develop:

    • small modular nuclear reactors and other new nuclear technlogies
    • eliminate GHG's from refrigerators and air conditioners
    • "zero net energy buildings at zero cost" -- I have no idea what that means
    • use renewables to make hydrogen more cheaply than by producing it from fossil fuels
    • decarbonize the process of making steel and concrete
    • decarbonize agriculture
    • develop agricultural techniques to sequester carbon
    • develop carbon capture & sequestration technology
    • low-carbon aviation

    Joe Biden's climate website

    Overall, this is well-focused on climate change without getting sidetracked like the "Green New Deal" or Jay Inslee's plan. I would have liked to see a carbon tax and less focus on doing everything through the public sector. It's good that nuclear is included.

    Conservative Climate Activists
    Organizer: Bill Chapman
    Email the Organizer,