President George W. Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wrote in The New York Times Sunday that a carbon tax was needed to combat the coming “climate bubble.”
Paulson compared the climate bubble to the financial bubble that occurred while he was in the Bush administration. He urged immediate action on global warming by imposing a global carbon tax to avoid global warming.
“The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response,” Paulson wrote. “We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax.”
“It’s true that the United States can’t solve this problem alone. But we’re not going to be able to persuade other big carbon polluters to take the urgent action that’s needed if we’re not doing everything we can do to slow our carbon emissions and mitigate our risks,” Paulson added.
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Paulson is set to release a report with liberal billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. Steyer has gained notoriety for spending millions on environmental campaigns, including opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and backing pro-climate policy candidates.
Bloomberg was the former Republican and independent mayor of New York City who angered conservatives with his “nanny state” rules like the one aimed at limiting the amount of soda people could buy in stores. Bloomberg also pushed a $20 billion plan to make New York City ready for the impacts of global warming — which allegedly include rising sea levels and fiercer storms.
The trio will put out a report on Tuesday as part of their “Risky Business” campaign, which aims to show business how to best mitigate the impact of global warming.
“New York can reasonably predict those obvious risks,” Paulson wrote in a shout-out to Bloomberg’s policies. “When I worry about risks, I worry about the biggest ones, particularly those that are difficult to predict — the ones I call small but deep holes.”
But Paulson’s oped was criticized as “fear mongering” by global warming skeptics and those opposed to carbon taxes as a solution to global warming.
“It’s hard to determine what is more delusional, Paulson thinking the climate can be bailed out with a carbon tax or actually believing his actions as Treasury Secretary bailed out the U.S. economy,” Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The Earth’s climate will not notice the impacts of a carbon tax one way or another,” Morano said. “But sadly for Americans, the impacts of a carbon tax would be felt daily. Paulson seems to believe that a carbon tax would in some way impact the climate.”
A carbon tax would likely hike energy prices, since most energy comes from coal, natural gas and oil, which would become costlier if taxed. Companies would pass on these costs to consumers, which is why many conservatives oppose the idea of a carbon tax.
“I would say that Paulson should stick with his expertise in finances, but after the wrath of destruction his policies left on America, I think it is wise if Paulson avoids both finance and climate,” Morano said.
But Paulson is trying to sell a carbon tax as a conservative solution to global warming. He says a carbon tax will “reduce the role of government, which, on our present course, increasingly will be called on to help communities and regions affected by climate-related disasters like floods, drought-related crop failures and extreme weather like tornadoes, hurricanes and other violent storms.”
“We’ll all be paying those costs. Not once, but many times over,” Paulson added.
But conservatives tend to argue that a carbon tax would likely be used for political purposes by politicians looking to dole out more government dollars to their supporters.
In California, Democrats have already earmarked funds from the state’s cap-and-trade system to finance high-speed rail and green energy projects, which will have little to no effect on global warming.
“The dismal record of the U.S. government in implementing efficient climate change policies is hardly evidence in favor of a massive new carbon tax (or cap-and-trade program),” wrote the Institute for Energy Research senior economist Robert Murphy in a 2012 study.
“In recent years, more and more self-described conservatives, who generally embrace the free market and are suspicious of taxation and government regulation of business, have come out in favor of a carbon tax,” writes Murphy. “Conservative proponents of the free market, of all analysts, should be wary indeed of any plan to introduce a new carbon tax in the name of promoting economic growth.”
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