Carbon Pricing and Climate in the News – January 2016

2015 Was the Warmest Year on Record. By Deborah Netburn, LATimes, 1/20/16. “2015 was Earth’s hottest year on record, and it appears the planet is still getting hotter… Climatologist Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said… ‘Even without El Niño this would have been the warmest year on record. We are looking at a long-term trend, and the factors that cause this long-term trend are continuing to accelerate, namely the increased burning of carbon dioxide fuels and other emissions.’”

Cancer and Climate Change. OpEd by Peter Sellers, NYTimes, 1/16/16. “I’m a climate scientist who has just been told I have Stage 4 pancreatic cancer… I was forced to decide how to spend my remaining time. Was continuing to think about climate change worth the bother?… I concluded that all I really wanted to do was spend more time with the people I know and love, and get back to my office as quickly as possible. I work for NASA, managing a large group of expert scientists doing research on the whole Earth system (I should mention that the views in this article are my own, not NASA’s). This involves studies of climate and weather using space-based observations and powerful computer models. These models describe how the planet works, and what can happen as we pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The work is complex, exacting, highly relevant and fascinating… History is replete with examples of us humans getting out of tight spots. The winners tended to be realistic, pragmatic and flexible; the losers were often in denial of the threat… And so, I’m going to work tomorrow.”

A Carbon Price Will Reduce Emissions More than Computer Models Predict. By Noah Kaufman, World Resources Institute, 1/13/16. “How much would a carbon tax reduce U.S. emissions? The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that if the country had set a carbon tax of $25 per ton in 2015 and increased it by 5 percent each year, CO2 emissions would have fallen to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. But new research shows that this may underestimate a carbon price’s true potential. In our new issue brief, Putting a Price on Carbon Emissions (PDF, 36 pp), we outline the specific ways a carbon price (meaning either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade program) would encourage emissions reductions by changing the behavior of producers, consumers and investors throughout the economy. We compare these incentives to the corresponding forecasts in EIA’s model, and we find that the model is likely underestimating emissions reductions in important ways.