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A complicated problem

Ciel pollué gris

 The beginning of the 21st century is marked by the insight that a climate crisis is looming on the horizon, in the short and long-term. Since solid data are collected, the scientists have rapidly become aware of the magnitude of the threat. The first phase in preparing a global response to the problem, was negociated and hardly achieved by setting up what is now known as the Kyoto protocol. The principle of defining quotas for the emission of greenhouse gases has prevailed over a taxation approach. This was mainly due to the work of the United States, even though the treaty was later not ratified by the country. At present, some american states have shown their will to join the treaty, but that treaty remains unsufficient, and at the global level, the environmental is still insignificant, and effectless.

Outlining the problem

How will the price of fossil fuels change if carbon is not priced?

         No matter how we look at the issue of fuel prices, it remains a fact that prices will keep increasing. Why is it certain? Geologists who are independent from oil companies, preview the date of the "Peak Oil" (the world's maximum of oil production capacity) to be in 10 to 15 years. This date will mark the beginning of oil (and gas) depletion, which shall cause energetic and economic problems.

               Anyway it is necessary to free ourselves from the idea that it will be possible to pay or act later. On the top of that the means of action would get seriously reduced in case of a recession.

              Let's take a look at the whole energetic scene and some common misconceptions.

            Are the so called "green fuels" a total and definitive solution? Not at all. Their qualities and their questionable efficiency would not - even if we had enough surface, which is not true - be able to produce the necessary kWh in replacement of oil. Wind energy, if we consider the corresponding scales of magnitude, cannot claim to be a significant way to replace fossil fuels: even with a strong growth (e.g.: 10%) of the number of wind energy installations, its percentage remains low. Solar energy is also unsufficient for the same reasons, in regard to the importance of what is at stake. Nuclear energy, in that context, must not be banished, but it is not THE solution to the problem, especially at a global scale, and the management of nuclear projects is made on the long-run, which is one of the limits, while the response cannot to much time.

                Reducing the overall consumption of fossil fuels turns out to be the only step to take that would have an impact on the reduction of greehouse gas emissions, but to achieve this it would be necessary that we overcome our "addiction" voluntarily. No need to say that natural gas will also enter the period of depletion a little later than oil and coal, even though it will longer remain available, will follow the same path, plus it is a disaster in terms of greenhouse gas emissions as well.

     

What do economists say?

        Many of them have argued that it is necessary to "put a price on carbon." Several approaches exist, but they all stress the same idea. Economic theory states clearly that the negative externality of pollution (and its impact on climate) must be taken into account when setting the price of goods. The Kyoto Protocol set up a system of quotas and negociated emission permits, but a CARBON TAX is still strongly being debated, even if it has been excluded from the agreement. In facts, a certain number of governments have already introduced carbon taxes in different ways.

 If we wait for the price of fossil resources to grow by itself and make us sober in energy consumption, the increase of prices will be a total loss for us and will only benefit the OPEC countries. On the contrary if we anticipate by increasing ourselves voluntarily the price of fuels, the revenue collected stays in our economies and there budgets, which can be expected to help finance the conversion of our economy into a low-carbon system. It has been proven to have a globally positive economic impact.


               The present introduction to the problem is not meant to answer completely all questions at one time.
               
Nevertheless, the proposal of a carbon tax has a strong basis and can eventually receive your support, provided you take enough time to read our arguments, and the available bibliography on that subject.

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