Carbon Pricing — Is It the Zombie Climate Policy?

At a press briefing in India yesterday, John Kerry, President Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate was asked by an Indian journalist about carbon pricing.  Here’s part of his response:

President Biden believes that at some point in time we need to find out a way to have a price on carbon that’s effective.  He hasn’t decided or made an announcement about it, but we all know that one of the most effective ways to reduce emissions is putting a price on carbon.

And the trade press latched onto the story, with Bloomberg (subscription required) noting, in part, that “Kerry’s remarks come amid a surge in interest in carbon pricing from business groups.”  And soon, I expect my friends at the Climate Leadership Council will remind us that their “Climate Dividends Plan” is the most costs-effective approach to reducing GHG emissions and has the most public support.

And then?

Well, to date, the answer has been … nothing.  And today I had the depressing thought that carbon pricing may be our national zombie climate policy.  It’s never quite dead, but then again, it’s not exactly alive, either.

I sure hope that this rather strained metaphor is wrong-headed, but I truly don’t know.  Given the skepticism of many in the environmental justice community about carbon prices, even the huge climate moves that this administration has already made aren’t enough to convince me of the political viability of a carbon tax.

And yet, and yet, it’s so obviously an important part of the solution.  Someone tell me whether we’re ready for a breakthrough and a full-court press will get carbon pricing in place or whether it’s just another great idea whose time has come – and gone.

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