Monday, 21-May-2018 13:34
 
no comments in "Economy"
Economy
Saturday, 04-November-2006
PProject Syndicate - As an American, I am appalled, ashamed, and embarrassed by my country’s lack of leadership in dealing with global warming. Scientific evidence on the risks mounts by the day, as most recently documented in England’s magisterial Stern Report . Yet, despite the fact that the United States accounts for roughly 25% of all man-made global carbon emissions, Americans show little will or inclination to temper their manic consumption.
The first George W. Bush administration was probably right to refuse to sign the so-called “Kyoto Protocol,” albeit for the wrong reasons. Among other problems, the Kyoto Protocol does not go far enough towards redistributing carbon emission rights towards developing countries. But why can’t the US bring itself to raise taxes on gasoline and other sources of carbon emission like coal burning power plants? It is not like the US government, running a huge deficit despite an economic boom, does not need the money.
Many people seem to think that the Bush administration is the problem. Put a Texas oilman and his buddies in charge and what do you expect, conservation? Unfortunately, that is a facile excuse.
American citizens’ resistance to moderating energy consumption for the sake of the global environment is much more deeply embedded. Consider former US Vice President Al Gore, for example, whose documentary film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth , is celebrated for its unflinching look at how fossil fuel consumption is leading mankind to the brink of catastrophe. The evidence on global warming is considerably more muddled than Gore’s film suggests, but the basic problem is real.
Unfortunately, however, Gore was not successful in carrying the torch on global warming when he was a politician. One cannot commend the 1990’s Clinton-Gore administration for taking any brave steps aimed at radically reducing carbon emissions. Small wonder: the American public is fiercely resistant to anything that seriously forces them to compromise on their energy-burning, gas-guzzling lifestyle.
It is not just politicians who have failed to provide leadership here. The venerable New York Times editorial page was apparently opposed to an energy tax until only recently, when the newspaper finally endorsed the idea. Like many liberals, the Times’ editors worried that higher energy taxes would fall disproportionately on the poor.
The typical argument one hears is, “What about the poor guy with the gas-guzzling 1980 Chevy car, who has no other way to get to work?” It is a legitimate point, but if ocean levels start rising, as the Stern Report predicts, a lot of our children will be swimming to work some day. The need for corrective measures to alleviate inequality is no excuse for inaction on global warming.
The change of position by the Times , unfortunately, does not herald an about-face in the American electorate. Mention the idea of an energy tax to any potential 2008 US Presidential candidate, and their faces will pale. It is fine to say that you care about the environment or to claim, as Bush seems to do, that miracle technologies will solve the problem without too much pain. But any 2008 Presidential candidate that dares to talk about making sacrifices now for a safer environment later will really be sticking his neck out.
Until Americans suck it up and start fixing global environmental problems that they, more than anyone, have caused, it will be difficult to get the wholehearted support of the rest of the world. Developing countries ask why they should pay attention to global warming if rich countries are not prepared to curtail their own emissions sharply? Why should poor countries worry about how deforestation contributes to global warming when rich countries remain so profligate?
The scientific evidence suggests that carbon emissions from anywhere in the world have about the same impact on global warming. For this reason, a wide range of economists favor a uniform (“harmonized”) global tax that would tax carbon emissions equally everywhere in the world, and from whatever source – whether coal, oil, or gas, and whether consumers or businesses.
Such a tax is the most flexible and market-friendly approach, and would have the least impact on economic growth. Instead, the complex system of quotas favored by the Europeans and embodied in the Kyoto Protocol is likely to lead to much larger inefficiencies and costs. For this reason, England’s Stern Report is probably far too optimistic when it calculates that an eclectic approach to reducing carbon emissions will cost the world only 1% per year of income. But the Stern Report is still right to argue that the potential risks of continued inaction are far greater.
America’s unwillingness to take the lead on environmental issues may some day be regarded as one of the country’s most profound political failures. One hopes that it changes course soon, before we all are forced to wear swimsuits to work.

Kenneth Rogoff is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and was formerly chief economist at the IMF.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2006.
www.project-syndicate.org
More from "Economy"

Other titles:
Tuesday, 17-October-2017
The United Arab Emirates acknowledged on Tuesday that two of its pilots were killed when their military aggression plane crashed over Jawf province, a military official said

The official added that the aggressive crashed plane was an apache that was
Tuesday, 17-October-2017
Three citizens were killed and four others wounded in two Saudi air strikes hit Majza district of Saada province, an official said on Tuesday.

The strikes hit a citizen's car in al-Jamalah area in the district, the official added.
Tuesday, 17-October-2017
Artillery of the army and popular shelled a gathering of Saudi-paid mercenaries in al-Moqadra area in Serwah district of Marib province, a military official said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, dozens of Saudi-paid mercenaries were killed and others injured in Wadi al-Theek in the district, the official added.
Monday, 16-October-2017
The army and popular forces carried out on Monday unique military operations in Taiz province.

A military official said that a number of Saudi-paid mercenaries were killed at the hands of the army and popular forces in al-Jazami Hill in al-Kadaha area in al-Ma'afer district.
Monday, 16-October-2017
A Saudi aggression fighter jet targeted a citizen's car driving in Fara area of Kutaf district in Saada province overnight, killing the driver and injuring his friend, a security official said on Monday.
Monday, 16-October-2017
The army artillery and popular committees launched a fierce attack on Saudi-paid mercenaries' sites in Jawf province, a military official said on Monday.

The attack destroyed a military vehicle belonging to the mercenaries and killed all on board in Sabran area in khab and shaaf district.
Sunday, 15-October-2017
Scores of Saudi enemy soldiers were killed and injured on Sunday when the army and popular forces repelled a Saudi military attempt to sneak into Shurfah site in the border province of Najran, a military official said.

The operation was accomplished successfully against the Saudi
Sunday, 15-October-2017
The army and popular committees have killed a total of 18 Saudi-paid mercenaries in sniper operations over the past hours in the central province of Marib, a military official said on Sunday.

Ten mercenaries were killed in Nehm district and eight others were killed in Serwah district, said the official.
Saturday, 14-October-2017
Saudi aggression warplanes have launched more than 49 airstrikes over the past hours on several residential areas across Yemen, a security official said on Sunday.
The airstrikes targeted the areas of Malahiz and Husama in Dhahir district, and areas Thuban, Masahif and Sdad in Bakim district of northern Saada province.
Thursday, 12-October-2017
The army and popular forces carried out an operation attack on Saudi-paid mercenaries' sites in al-Hawal area in Nehm district.

A local official said that the operation attack resulted in killing and injuring mercenaries, adding they also incurred heavy losses at their ranks

who we are     |    Advertising     |    contact us
All rights reserved © Almotamar Net, Developed by