Bending the Curve toward Reasoned Action

With something as complex the all-encompassing climate response negotiations between nearly 200 governments, it is often easier to talk about the arc of the process than to trace every detail. The energy committed to reasoned action can be drained away, if too much weight is given to doubt and naysaying. So the work here is in part about building up the level of energy committed to reasoned action. We have a chance to bend the curve toward reasoned action and make sure no efficiency value or constructive outcome is left unattempted. 

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In plenary sessions, in the review of draft text, in bilateral negotiations, finance is the hot topic: how to build up and deploy funding for mitigation, adaptation, and damage relief, and how to judge which projects in which countries should get it. What is not central to the negotiations, but has been consistently repeated in connection to the value of climate finance, is how pricing carbon will build economic efficiency and make it possible to better predict the value of climate-smart investments.

Advocates for a price on carbon include not only Citizens' Climate Lobby (advocating for Fee and Dividend and the Pathway to Paris principles) and the NRDC and IETA (advocating for cap and trade or ETS plans). At COP20, we also find representatives of national and subnational governemnts that are actively pricing carbon and looking for ways to harmonize or actively link up their plans.

The World Bank and the IMF are also advocating for a price on carbon. Rachel Kyte, the World Bank's Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate, called for "a globally networked carbon market" or a mosaic of carbon pricing strategies. She said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim wants every country to commit to pricing carbon in Paris next year. She also thanked Citizens' Climate Lobby for its efforts and said our citizen engagement will be important for getting the right policies in place.

julie-luke.jpgIn a discussion yesterday evening with Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister for Australia, it was clear that there is an interest in Australia for smart, targeted climate response that builds value over time. Earlier in the day, she announced a commitment of $200 million to the Green Climate Fund, and the Australian delegation was successful in introducing language relating to health impacts into the text of the draft agreement.

I was able to meet with her, because our volunteers had worked hard to build relationships and to make clear that their perspective, as citizens, should be part of the discussion. With so many points of view competing for a hearing in Lima, it is clear that citizen engagement provides a genuine stabilizing effect to thinking about smart, viable, economy-building policy. More of that will build political will and get us more ambitious commitments, including smart, fiscally conservative carbon pricing, like our Fee and Dividend plan, or something that follows the Pathway to Paris principles.

The UNFCCC Conference of Parties process has become an ongoing global process of coordinated response to a crisis that affects most of what any society attempts to do. This means it overlaps with the human rights and sustainable development agendas, and other aspects of the always active diplomatic process. Whatever phrasing or legal agreements come out of Lima or Paris, the process of coordinated climate response is now part of the political process for every country, and provides the best opportunity for robust long-term in reliable, sustainable prosperity.

maria-vanderhoeven.jpgThis morning, as I awaited the privilege of addressing the talented students of the Colegio Roosevelt, here in Lima, I listened to my fellow speaker, Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, say that a price on carbon is a vital part of the policy environment we need to secure a sustainable future economy. Fellow advocates of the economic wisdom of carbon pricing noted today that this is becoming the talk of the COP. It's not a focus of the negotiations, but it is filtering into virtually every serious discussion about how to efficiently dedicate and deploy serious and sustainable financial resources.

There is palpable and increasing interest in achieving reasoned climate disruption response policies that 1) effectively mitigate risk and cost, and 2) allow for the continued expansion of prosperity for all people. The moment is within reach where political rivals will come together to support reasoned and effective climate action that reduces cost and risk and also builds stronger, more long-lived streams of economic prosperity.


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  • The most comprehensive analysis done of a Fee and Dividend plan was done by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), in the US. The study modeled 160 sectors and 9 regions, as well as 5 income quintiles, and so provides insights that can be applied to other markets and contexts. You can find robust REMI resources, including both the full report and a 4-page summary, here: http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org/remi-report
  • Joe,
    Thanks for the update. Your post notes that there is a variety of approaches to pricing carbon. I understand some are already in operation within Europe, and even in some states of the US.

    As you are no doubt aware, we had a scheme here in Australia and our current government “Axed the Tax” (repealed the former government’s fledgling carbon pricing scheme). We have our share of outright deniers (mostly brainwashed by lies, deceit & misinformation from US based Merchants of Doubt) – however, “Axe the Tax” also appealed to “middle Australia”. They reasoned why should we export jobs – the US has done nothing – we should not even have signed Kyoto.

    Given there are a variety of schemes “on the table”, some more established than others, it is important that we back the best option.

    In the same way, that I accept global warming is serious and that urgent action is needed – because of the statements from bodies such as The Royal Society & the NAS. I am not interested in hearing detailed reasons why Fee and Dividend is the best. I do not have the expertise to understand all the implications & economic processes at play. I am interested to hear what the most prestigious economic societies/experts say.

    Can you direct me to such an evaluation?

    Regards,

    Howard