German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called for a global carbon-trading system to tackle the growing costs of global warming and prevent "dramatic damage" in the future.
Speaking at a major UN climate conference in New York, Merkel said it was up to industrial nations to give developing countries, which have only recently begun to impact global carbon levels, a reason to act.
From the Houston Chronicle's SciGuy, Sept. 10, 2006:
I know George Soros is persona non grata to some of you. But he's also recently become a climate change crusader, so when Soros, one of the world's greatest financial speculators, met with the Chronicle's editorial board last Thursday I sat in.
Naturally he had a financial solution to the problem, namely, taxing the emissions of carbon dioxide:
Ideally you would have, let's say, a global carbon tax. That would re-orient investments to carbon-free forms of energy. I think it would have to be introduced over a period of time, but it would effect investment decisions being made today. If you knew that 15 years from now that you would have a heavy carbon tax, you would then make investments today that would factor in alternative sources. Each country would have to do it. You also need some fund that would be used to facilitate investments in new technology. You could make the carbon tax the basis for financing social security instead of payroll tax over a period of 15 years. You could replace the payroll tax with a carbon tax. It would be revenue neutral, but it would re-orient the spending.
That seems like a reasonable solution: energy companies pass along their higher costs for alternative energies to consumers, who pay those higher costs by seeing a reduction in their social security taxes. Concessions would have to be made for those on fixed incomes.
Soros also said his greatest immediate concern is the new construction of coal-fired power plants, and called for an even more aggressive implementation of the FutureGen project, which seeks to sequester the carbon before it is emitted.
I don't think you will ever wean yourself away from hydrocarbons, but you've got to reduce the carbon emissions. And the single-most important breakthrough is taking carbon out of coal. Unless you deal with that problem, the other measures you do can't possibly be sufficient because the number of coal-fired power stations being built. There are 600 of them in China, and about the same number in the rest of the world. And if they're all built they will add up to two-thirds of the pollution that's already being put into the air. It increases it by two-thirds.
The problem is that a lot of these plants, including 16 in Texas, will probably be built long before FutureGen comes online. It would be nice to at least build them so they could be retrofitted to capture carbon dioxide before it's emitted.
One of these days I'll get around to Soros and his pal Maurice Strong.