I see my colleague Andrew is getting on board the neo-contrarian argument about climate change -- it's real, it's caused by human activity, but it's just not worth doing anything about:
The key will be private and public innovation of non-carbon energy, and possibly carbon capture technology.
You can find a more elaborated version of the argument from Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus in Democracy. I thought their book, Break Through, made a number of interesting points but this article focuses in on their core bad idea -- "Kyoto is dead—and that’s a good thing. In its place, we need massive global investment in new clean energy technology."
There's just no reason to think of "massive global investment in new clean energy technology" as an alternative to the mainstream environmentalist interest in putting a price on carbon. Massive investment requires a lot of money. And if the point of raising the money is to produce clean energy technology, what better place to get the money from than auctioning permits to generate unclean energy? If you raise the funds through a carbon charge, then you're able to subsidize technology both coming and going. Any alternative way of funding "massive global investment" is ultimately going to involve less efficiency and more economic pain.
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