Former Vice President Al Gore and I have met privately to discuss the issue of global warming, and I was pleased and honored that he invited me to attend the “We” Campaign event. Global warming is a reality as most every organization that has studied the matter has concluded, whether conservative-leaning, liberal oriented or independent. I am, however, also aware that scientists differ on its causes, impact and remedies. I remain firmly committed to free market solutions and innovations to address this issue; not tax-driven policies.
I commend Mr. Gore for his efforts and leadership in this area, and urge Senators Obama and McCain to join me in studying, debating, and finding solutions to the problem of energy needs, consumption and effects. The American people deserve to hear all of our views and proposals on this issue and others. I am particularly pleased that Mr. Gore agrees that the public debate of this issue should include me so that the American people can make an informed choice after hearing a range of views. However, the fact that neither of the two major party candidates attended this event may indicate their unwillingness to address this important issue. Mr. McCain, for example, seems to have adopted already the internationalist approach and relying on the cumbersome and costly “cap and trade” formula and he may therefore be unwilling to engage in a real debate that would reveal how flawed that approach truly is.
All of the three major candidates have met with Al Gore to discuss global warming.
Thomas L. Knapp left a comment on the Third Party Watch blog post discussing global warming explaining a libertarian argument for a carbon tax:
In discussing the “green tax shift” with advocates thereof (Brian Holtz and Fred E. Foldvary, to name two), I’ve been at odds with them insofar as they advocate a carbon tax not for the purpose of paying for the removal of excess carbon from the atmosphere and sequestration of it, but as government’s “general revenue” source.
In my opinion, a government carbon reduction policy should pay for itself—barely. It shouldn’t be a source of revenue that enables the state to get up to unrelated fuckery.
The presumptive goal is to keep the carbon content of the atmosphere below x parts per million (the number I’ve heard thrown around a lot is 350, but it may be something else). If there’s a libertarian justification for that goal, said justification is that carbon in excess of x parts of million harms people or property, and that therefore pushing the ratio of carbon above x parts per million is an initiation of force.
It’s already getting complicated, but then throw into the complication the fact that there are not just 300-odd million Americans involved in emitting carbon, but another 6 billion people not in US jurisdiction.
Presumably there’s going to have to be an assessment of just how much carbon any one person can emit before crossing the threshold into initiation of force by contributing to exceeding the x parts per million threshold.
After that, rather than a tax, I’d prefer to see a destination-optional user fee. For every ton of carbon in excess of the threshold, the emitter can buy offset/sequestration from a private party at a market rate. If someone is caught “emitting in excess” without offsetting or sequestering, then why not go with the old civil standard of “treble damages?” The government fines them three times the market price of the offsets/sequestration they should have bought, buys TWICE as much on their behalf, and keeps 1/3 to cover the costs of enforcement/administration.
I suspect that most of this would take care of itself very quickly through the market—manufacturers would roll their automobiles, lawn mowers, etc. out of the factory with an “X Tons of Carbon VER purchased for this device at point of manufacture” sticker on them (in an amount in excess of emissions produced in the average life of the device type), utilities would fold the price of VERs into the kilowatt-hour charge, etc. On a personal level, investigating/charging someone with excess emissions would be subject to all the same probable cause, reasonable search, etc. constraints as any other state enforcement action