On October 7, 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the final draft of a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C, which is intended to galvanize political support for doubling down on the Paris climate accord ahead of a U.N. climate summit this December. The report calls for societal changes that are “unprecedented in terms of scale” in order to limit future global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the goal of the Paris accord.
According to the Daily Caller, Oct. 8, 2018, the IPCC Special Report claims that to keep future global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to 45% of 2010 levels by 2030, that is, in less than 12 years; and 100% reduction by 2050.
To achieve those goals, the world would have to largely abandon its use of coal for electricity, and use more solar and wind power. The report says the costs of such a transition would be high, and options could include a carbon tax as high as $27,000 per ton by 2100.
The IPCC Special Report is collectively authored by 26 climate scientists from 16 countries, including two from the United States (Drew Shindell and William Solecki). According to the report:
4.1 There is very high likelihood that under current emission trajectories and current national pledges the Earth will warm globally more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, causing associated risks. The nationally determined contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement will result, in aggregate, in global greenhouse emissions in 2030 which are higher than those in scenarios compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C by 2100. More ambitious pledges would imply higher mitigation costs in the short-term, albeit offset by a variety of co-benefits, but would lower both mitigation and adaptation costs in the long-term….4.4 Limiting global warming of 1.5°C implies the need for transformational adaptation and mitigation, behaviour change, and multi-level governance….A broad portfolio of different mitigation policy options, including carbon pricing mechanisms and regulation, would be necessary in 1.5°C pathways to achieve the most cost-effective emissions reductions…. Reduction in energy demand can also be achieved through behaviour change….Policy instruments, both price and non-price, are needed to accelerate the deployment of carbon-neutral technologies. Evidence and theory suggests that some form of carbon pricing can be necessary.
In order to effectively keep future warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the IPCC says carbon taxes would need to range from $135 to $5,500 per ton in 2030, $245 to $13,000 per ton in 2050, $420 to $17,000 per ton in 2070 and $690 to $27,000 per ton in 2100.
Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller translates for us what a carbon tax of $27,000 per ton by the year 2100 means:
For Americans, that’s the same as a $240 per gallon tax on gasoline in the year 2100, should such a recommendation be adopted. In 2030, the report says a carbon tax would need to be as high as $5,500 — that’s equivalent to a $49 per gallon gas tax.
The Democrat Party had called for a price on carbon dioxide in their 2016 party platform, but they haven’t made much effort on that front since the failure of cap-and-trade legislation in 2010.
This July, GOP lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution opposed to carbon taxes, despite a bill introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo to tax carbon dioxide at $23 a ton — nowhere near what the IPCC calls for.
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