Home Research Putting a price on carbon could curb emissions, help tackle climate change

Putting a price on carbon could curb emissions, help tackle climate change


Climate change discussions, policy decisions and debates always has carbon emissions as a major talking point and multiple studies have, over the years, suggested ways to tackle this problem by putting a price on carbon.

Energising this call and renewing efforts to force governments take policy decisions in line with this call, Years of Living Dangerously and Our Climate have launched a US-wide Put A Price On It campaign to put a price on carbon pollution by mobilizing the support of generations most affected by climate change: young people.

The campaign resorts to innovative ways of communications including film, social media, and celebrity endorsements, while also empowering students across the country to directly lobby their members of Congress and build a groundswell of support from young voters. Students from as many as 25 states in the US have already joined the campaign and are working together to engage their peers, secure university endorsements, and lobby their representatives.

Why Put A Price On It campaign?

According to the campaign website, like studies have also highlighted previously, putting a price on carbon will effective make carbon pollution expensive and this will make products manufactured in plants that contribute to pollution and climate change through carbon emissions also expensive. Put another way, a price on carbon makes fossil fuels like coal and oil more expensive. And when that happens people switch to cheaper forms of energy like wind and solar.

“It’s THE SOLUTION to climate change”, says the campaign.

Policy Decisions

Literally putting a price on carbon pollution and other greenhouse gasses is the best approach for nurturing the rapid growth of renewable energy and reducing emissions, a study by scientists from Princeton and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs said last year.

The current price of carbon – which is below zero, once fossil-fuel subsidies are taken into account – is far too low given the hidden environmental, health and societal costs of burning coal and oil, authors said in the policy article published in Nature.

The article urges modernizing and opening up access to power grids for renewable sources like solar and wind energy (similar to the access fossil fuel sources enjoy), and subsidizing key technologies, particularly for energy storage. Additionally, investments must be made that support research and development related to low-carbon energy technologies.

While some obstacles regarding low-carbon energy are technological, many are policy-driven, the authors write. Current policies were set with the fossil-fuel industry in mind, but the same principle could apply with the emerging renewable energy technologies as well.

The authors point toward Germany and China as examples. Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act guaranteed 20 years of grid access and fixed prices for solar- and wind-power producers. Meanwhile, in China, climate, energy and industrial policies have boosted the manufacturing scale of renewable technologies.

But despite these efforts, many countries still use coal and natural gas as their main source of electricity. Likewise, many forms of bioenergy actually increase net emissions rather than reduce them.