May 5, 2009

Hansen: cap-and-trade approach to climate will fail ...

Even the individuals sometimes deemed 'nutty', see 'cap and trade' as a failure

POLICY: Hansen hopes lawmakers’ cap-and-trade approach to climate will fail
    NEW YORK –NASA’s leading climate scientist says he hopes that climate legislation proposed by Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman (Calif.) and Edward Markey (Mass.) to introduce carbon emissions trading to the United States fails. He says lawmakers should abandon cap-and-trade initiatives altogether and implement a simple carbon tax instead.

    James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a vocal advocate for action on global warming, told an audience at a conference hosted by Columbia University climate policy students that cap and trade is a scheme devised by Wall Street that will do nothing to alleviate the global warming problem.

    “Trading of rights to pollute … introduces speculation and makes millionaires on Wall Street,” Hansen said in his keynote lecture at Columbia University’s 350 Climate Conference held here Saturday. “I hope cap and trade doesn’t pass, because we need a much more effective approach.”

    Hansen also stands opposed to so-called “cap and dividend” proposals that would introduce pollution trading and a near full auctioning of emissions, with proceeds from the auctions going back to the public. Instead, Hansen proposed a “tax and dividend” approach to tax fossil fuels at the point where they are extracted from the ground, to set a firm price on carbon. Proceeds from the tax, rather than from the auctioning of allowances, would then be distributed to consumers.

    “It could be implemented in one year, as opposed to decades with cap and trade,” he said. “The bureaucracy is very simple.”

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