The Times recent editorial, “Adaptation, preservation and change,” was correct in stating the “debate about climate change has, more or less, been settled.”
The debate now needs to shift to what actions we should take and when we should take them. The second part of that question is easy to answer - we should take action very soon.
Why the urgency? The consensus of climate scientists is that if the increase in Earth’s temperature exceeds 2C, we will start to see unmanageable consequences. If we continue to emit CO2 at our present rate, we could easily be at the 2C limit within two or three decades. Changing our energy source from carbon-based fuels to renewables will not be an easy task, and every delay compounds the problem.
The first part of the question concerning what actions we should take is not as easy to answer, but one action gaining support and would put us on the road to reducing our CO2 emissions is a revenue-neutral carbon tax, collected wherever carbon-based fuels are produced, such as the well head or mine. The purpose of the tax is to reduce the production of CO2, not to raise money, so the revenue is returned to taxpayers.
Taxes are often used to limit the use of products and, in fact, a version of this tax on carbon-based fuel has been used in British Columbia since 2008 with good results. A number of economists support it, including George Schultz who served as Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Treasury, and Gary Becker, a 1992 Nobel laureate in economics.
A revenue-neutral carbon tax deserves our serious consideration - now.