Let’s first look at Plan-A for the climate. When the COP20 in Lima 2014 came to a close, the agreement was met with a big applause. But why we’re they applauding? You couldn’t really call it a success now could you? Lima didn’t exactly put us on the path to curb emissions and to prevent dangerous warming. The fact that they even made an agreement and that they were so delighted about it proves how difficult things were and still are today.
So is Paris 2015 going to be any better? Some will say yes. There’s probably going to be a lot of talk of how hopeful they are at an agreement in Paris. They’ll probably say the same things that were said in the run up towards Lima. Things are different now, there’s a new momentum and we have a high chance of success. But we all know now what happened in Lima.
It’s like in politics, you shouldn’t vote for someone based on what a politician says during campaign time. You should vote for someone for the things that he or she has done when it matters!! The campaign for Paris has already started, hence all the applause when a deal was made in Lima. But words and applause are less meaningful compared to real action.
By now you should have noticed that I’m not that positive about the next COP in Paris. I have no reason to do that. What we need is at least a 50% cut in emissions from 1990 by 2030 and we’re not even close. The EU has promised a meager 40% while they are regarded as the ones that should lead the way. The superpowers have promised, uhm, well, what did they promise?
Paris is going to be crunch time for the climate for Plan-A. It’s going to be our last chance to get policies underway for staying under 2 degrees Celsius. Would it be so bad to start thinking about a new plan in case Paris fails? If you think about it, a well made Plan-B could even put some pressure on the outcome of Paris.
There’s a number of EU countries that want to do good, but really can’t do it alone. There’s also a number of bad countries that for instance have opposed the EU plans for a carbon tax on airliners. The differences between these countries are simply too big. It’s time for the countries that want to do good to say enough is enough. We’re going to do things our way. Either you can be with us, or you can be against us.
That might sound a bit far fetched that some countries could pull this off. But as the need is so high, why wouldn’t that be possible?
A new organization
These countries would have to unite into a brand new organization regardless to what organizations they belong to now. Just a couple of countries are needed to take the lead in this. Other countries are sure to follow. Unlike how things are done in the COP’s, decisions are made by a two-thirds majority. If you don’t like how things are done you can easily leave the group. If you do like how things are done you can easily join the group.
The basic idea
This new group of countries would unite and basically implement 2 kinds of policies.
- Implement a fixed price on carbon emissions per ton.
- Implement an import carbon tax on other countries.
This is the only thing what this new organization is going to do. Nothing more and nothing less.
Any country willing to join this group simply has to implement these 2 policies. Any country not doing his best to implement these policies can simply be kicked out.
Most climate solutions in Plan-A have been far too difficult. By keeping this as simple as possible the chances of success for this plan will be the greatest.
Of course not all bad countries can be treated the same. There should be a number of categories in which to place a bad country with different taxation schemes. A country can be bad because it has high emissions or a country can be bad because it’s cutting down it’s forests or doing other bad things that disrupt the climate. Also countries can be bad for helping other bad countries avoiding taxation. The placement of countries into those categories will be a difficult one, but it has to be done! There’s no other way around it.
Some of those bad countries will not be very happy with their placement in a category and might issue counter measures to the good countries. All I can say to that is, let it be so. This can’t be avoided. Counter measures will no doubt harm good countries, but will harm them selves as well.
Countries will try to avoid these taxation’s. For instance they will try to use border nations to escape taxation. This can be a disruptive thing to the good countries. These border nations should be persuaded to implement similar policies to a degree so they won’t be disruptive. Failing to do so will make them fall into a worse category of taxation. And this argument can be very persuasive as it won’t be just the border country raising carbon taxation, but instead the whole group of nations raising carbon taxation on that one country.
In case you’re wondering if I really like taxes. No, like everyone else I don’t. It’s just that if you use the principle “the polluter pays” there’s no other way around using taxes.
The easiest way to raise a carbon tax is at power stations and at the pump. Ships pay a carbon tax when taking on fuel in port. Airplanes pay a carbon tax for taking on fuel at the airport. Every type of fuel has a fixed tax. It’s a simple as that. International transport can of course choose to take on fuel from a near by bad country. If that trend is big enough to be disruptive these countries can fall in to a worse category for heavier taxation. I can assure you, they don’t want to have that.
Further more, it’s up to the countries them selves how to return the tax back to the public. In any case it should be prohibited to return the tax back to polluting companies.
Anyway, these are my 2 cents on a Plan-B. It would be great if we seriously considered one.
Follow up: Plan-B for the climate II