Climate Change: Joe Biden’s plan (that doesn’t exist)

The New York Times reports that I’m not the only one pissed off about Joe Biden’s “plan” to fight climate change. Biden’s campaing is now saying it was misrepresented. Here’s what Joe Biden himself had to say about it:


“I’m proud to have been one of the first to introduce climate change legislation,’’ he said on Twitter. “What I fought for in 1986 is more important than ever — climate change is an existential threat. Now. Today.”

He added: “We need policies that reflect this urgency. I’ll have more specifics on how America can lead on climate in the coming weeks.”

Joe, you just proved that you are clueless about climate change. If you really knew, you would never have to promise “I’ll have more … in the coming weeks.” You don’t even know what your plan is; your political spinmeisters are still putting it together.

Their guiding principle is choosing what will appeal to voters — that’s why they were salivating about catch-phrases like “middle ground” and “blue collar voters.” The guiding principle should be: fighting climate change.

Your attempt to claim you’re a leader on the issue has already backfired. All you showed us is that you are part of the problem. A word to the wise: the political climate has changed. Thanks to politicians (!) like Jay Inslee, Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, thanks to teenagers like Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Villasenor, and Jamie Margoles, you can’t be a serious democratic contender without paying lip service to climate change. So you jumped on the bandwagon, Joe.

You will find that those of us who “get it” about climate change are smart enough to see through your pretense.

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36 responses to “Climate Change: Joe Biden’s plan (that doesn’t exist)

  1. I can’t find a link to Biden’s climate change plan. I only see links to reports about his plan or complaints about his plan. I don’t even see anything about his climate change plan on his campaign website. This is all it says;

    “Tackling climate change and pollution to protect our communities.
    Climate change threatens communities across the country, from beachfront coastal towns to rural farms in the heartland. We must turbocharge our efforts to address climate change and ensure that every American has access to clean drinking water, clean air, and an environment free from pollutants.”

    That’s not a plan. But I maintain the POTUS shouldn’t have a plan for solving this problem. Nor should he have a plan for fixing the health insurance and health care systems. The POTUS isn’t supposed make those plans. The POTUS is supposed to state his/her and the nation’s commitment to solve the big problems.

    So, why complain that his plan doesn’t exist? More to the point, how should the government develop a plan to fix the climate problem? Do you really think Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders or Jay Inslee are competent to produce a complex scientific, technological, and economic plan to solve a problem like climate change? The executive branch is supposed to execute the plan. The POTUS should inspire the nation to solve the problem, like John Kennedy did with his “We choose to go to the moon” speech.

    Look at the Green New Deal. That’s not a plan. It’s a wish list. Back in the day, the DoD put out a RFT for the next USAF transport. A few companies submitted actual plans. Lockheed submitted the C5A; Boeing submitted a plan as well. Boeing lost, and the AF got the C5A. But Boeing kept the intellectual property it had developed for its submission, and they continued development. Boeing’s losing submission became the Boeing 747.

    So shouldn’t the climate change plan be:
    1. Congress passes a law mandating that the nation convert from burning fossil fuels for generating electricity and for powering private vehicles to using only renewables and nuclear for those systems.
    2. The POTUS puts out many RFTs for proposals to build systems to implement the Congressional mandate in 1.
    3. When a proposal is accepted to satisfy one of the RFTs, POTUS submits it to Congress for funding.
    4. Congress funds the proposed system and the POTUS oversees the development of the system by private enterprise.

    That gets the best scientific, engineering, and economic minds working on the problems and involves the private sector in the way it should be involved.

    [Response: There’s a great deal of thoughtful and important commentary.

    If Joe Biden had said what you said, I wouldn’t be excoriating him on my blog. But he didn’t. Instead, he said he had a plan. It turns out he doesn’t.

    In my opinion, either Jay Inslee or Bernie Sanders could do what you are calling for: get the right people to make the right plan. But Joe Biden can’t — ever — because he doesn’t understand how serious the problem is. If he did, he wouldn’t be advertising “middle ground” and “blue collar.”

    I might believe that Joe Biden will be better than any other candidate at actually getting congress to enact legislative proposals. The problem is: the legislation he’ll get through won’t be nearly enough to save our lives. Legislative victory is cold comfort to the dead.]

  2. I have some good new and some bad news: CNN poll from April says climate change is the top concern of democratic voters. That’s the good news. Joe Biden is weak on climate change and he is currently leading the pack for the dem nomination to take on Trump. That seems like bad news to me.

  3. The country shouldn’t be looking to people over 70 to run it. Their brains are too stuck–e.g., Trump and urban crime.

    There are only two presidents in our history–Reagan and Trump–who have been substantially over 70 for most of their presidency. Both Biden and Sanders should move on.

    • I agree on Biden, but I sure like the idea of Sanders and Warren as a ticket. I am not sure Warren can stand up to the bs that Trump and his folks would throw at her. I think Sanders Warren could take the heat together and they would surely get the heat: I would expect that ticket to be attacked as stalin/pocahontas. Not fair, reasonable or accurate, but I would expect that kind of attack. Biden? No, please retire and call it a day, Joe.

  4. I agree with Bernie Sanders, what he wants to accomplish and change.
    But part of me fears he will try to do too many things early on.
    His biggest issues seem to be universal health care and correcting
    the wealth inequity. I will vote for whoever is wins the primary, but would prefer Jay Inslee.

    The best case scenario is that Democrats gain the Senate and White House in 2020, making it less important who is President.

  5. It is shocking, that Biden has no plan. It is even worse, that he is looking for “middle ground” with deniers, that are just at this moment trying to bring old light bulbs back.

    What is happening is very similar to Feinstein and her “plan” and her pretty offensive talk to the kids approaching her.

    • Maybe I don’t understand what you all mean when you use the word “plan.” What do you mean? What is the correct “plan” then for stopping climate change? The closest thing I have seen to a plan that would actually work is the revenue-neutral carbon tax implemented worldwide: http://www.clcouncil.org/media/2017/03/The-Conservative-Case-for-Carbon-Dividends.pdf

      If you were Joe Biden running for POTUS, any plan you propose is worthless unless you get elected, so how would you get elected to the office, given the current division in the nation, and then if you got elected, how would you implement your plan given the intransigence of the Republican Senate?

      • I think that your definition of plan (“something that can get votes from Republicans in Senate”) is wrong.

        The conservative plan you linked to looks like garbage to me. It would have been a useful “plan” if it had been enacted 20 years ago.

        We need massive action fast. It is simply unclear, whether a compromise with these Republicans is really any better than doing nothing at all.

        And i think that Democrats have already lost, if they start with this sort of a compromise plan.

      • Martin Smith

        sod wrote: “I think that your definition of plan (“something that can get votes from Republicans in Senate”) is wrong.”
        That isn’t my definition of plan. Far from it. I distinguish between a plan to get elected and a plan to end global warming, and I maintain that both plans are required. I just think Biden is trying to combine the two plans, and that is a mistake he is taking a deserved hit for now. Instead, he should develop his plan to get elected, which he began with brilliantly when he announced his candidacy. For his plan to end global warming, he should simply declare that he will Make America the Renewable Leader and print a lot of MARL hats. He should 1. promise to push for Congress to pass a law mandating conversion of the nation to renewable energies soonest, and 2. promise to then commission the best scientists, engineers, and financiers to develop the systems needed to implement that law.

        sod wrote: “The conservative plan you linked to looks like garbage to me.”
        Why? Because it’s not sufficient? Yes, it’s not sufficient, but it is necessary to visibly change the financial incentives of the people and the corporations to make the con version happen. Of course further measures are required. You can’t require that everything must be decided or even known up front.

        sod wrote: “We need massive action fast.”

        Great plan.

      • I had a previous comment disappear somehow, but quickly recapping:

        If I were running, I’d start with 4 broad policies:

        1) Implement a revenue-neutral carbon tax, *plus* eliminate all existing subsidies to fossil-fuel investment, starting with the exploration tax credit.

        2) Incentivize or mandate the accelerated deployment of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, as well as energy efficiency measures and energy storage. Fund improvements to the national grid. Support existing nuclear capacity and ongoing research, but freeze new expansions for the time being.

        3) Incentivize or mandate the accelerated deployment of electric transportation, including the buildout of rapid charging networks.

        4) Create a “moonshot” project aimed at transforming American agriculture from a model based on the mining of topsoil to a model based on *building* topsoil, and doing so in a way that supports rather than stresses our rural communities. Agriculture right now is a carbon source, but existing techniques can make it a net sink, given the right policy environment–or so I am given to understand, at least.

      • good plan, doc. I would add a plank to address income and wealth inequality because: ” Globally, the wealthiest ten per cent of people may be responsible for more than 50 per cent of emissions.

        Though high-income households bear more responsibility for climate change, its most severe impacts will be felt by the poor, who are more likely to live in areas exposed to environmental hazards, such as floodplains or steep slopes, and whose homes may also lack basic infrastructure that might reduce the impacts of extreme weather, such as drains to safely carry away storm-water. Then, in the aftermath of natural disasters, it is the poorest in society who struggle to access the financial resources they need to rebuild their homes and lives, turning a storm into a catastrophe.”

        https://www.citymetric.com/horizons/how-tackling-climate-change-could-tackle-inequality-3991

      • sorry, but i am pretty sure that “massive action fast” is a much better plan than “less Government, less pollution” (from your pdf), simply because it is the truth and not completely false like the second statement.

        If Democrats start the debate with such a compromise, it will be watered down even further. And then it becomes totally unclear, whether a “small carbon tax” can even compensate the deregulation effects (again, this plan is garbage).
        http://www.clcouncil.org/media/2017/03/The-Conservative-Case-for-Carbon-Dividends.pdf

        I also disagree about your plan to get elected. Democrats will get elected by mobilising their own base, not by making compromise with Republicans.

        I also fear that the only brilliant move that Biden could do, would be to remove himself from this race. This is a 100% repeat of the Clinton campaign and it has a really high chance of complete failure again.
        And looking at climate change, it is obvious by now, that even an election success by Biden will not produce significant change. This is a lose-lose situation.

      • Martin Smith

        +1 Good plan, Doc.It hits all the major points where we can either change incentives to achieve the goal. Each part is clear and manageable. I haven’t read Inslee’s plan yet, so I don’t know if it resembles yours, but none of the other candidates has a plan like this. Why not? I think the candidates can’t come up with this kind of plan because they see the problem as a political issue, when it is really a technological and psychological paradigm shift.

        If Trump really was the business-minded construction project developer he claims to be, then theoretically he would be the right kind of POTUS to lead the nation to implement a plan like yours. But in reality, he has none of the skills of a real industrial tycoon. He is just a conman.

        Either of the President Roosevelts could have pulled this off. Kennedy could have done it, and LBJ, and Reagan probably. But I don’t see any of the democratic candidates trying to develop a plan like yours, because it requires attracting major scientific, engineering, and economic talent to develop the plan. They way to do that is to, first, have a plan like yours and state it clearly and concisely, and, second, call for experts to come and help you flesh it out with numbers.

        Trump promised, “I’ll have all the best people.” If he had kept that promise (which we knew he would not), he could have done some good. Instead he attracted toadies and people who are seriously out of touch with the real world, just like Trump himself.

        The DNCC should ask some big donors to create a new “think tank” that would employ experts in science, and engineering, and finance, and psychology, to develop solutions for political issues using system analysis and engineering principles. The DNCC think tank could then design the technological and financial systems necessary to solve the political issues, and then the party could say these are the systems we will build. Then we wouldn’t have to field a 43 man squamish team of candidates (look that up, the creator just died) to sort through hoping to find a keeper.

        We thought Obama was a keeper, and in some ways he was, but he couldn’t get much done. And what did we expect him to do? Look at his main legislative accomplishment, the ACA. It’s not a health insurance system, it’s a mish-mash of stuff cobbled together. Who designed the ACA? Whoever it was, I can’t think they had the words “System Design” in their job title.

      • Martin Smith

        sod wrote: “sorry, but i am pretty sure that “massive action fast” is a much better plan than “less Government, less pollution” (from your pdf)…”

        That isn’t the plan in the pdf. The plan in the pdf is the revenue-neutral carbon tax implemented nation-wide. It isn’t sufficient, but it is necessary, and, in this form at least, it is a Republican idea. It will work, although it is not sufficient. And it is necessary to establish the correct incentives for all the players.

        You appear to be deliberately misrepresenting what I post, so I’ll stop.

        [Response: Don’t stop. Expect your words to be misinterpreted and misrepresented. Welcome to the internet.

        Incentives for all the players are, in my opinion, necessary. But not sufficient.]

      • Martin, I am not misrepresenting you. I am directly quoting from the pdf (page 3) in your link:

        “Less Government, Less Pollution
        In order to separate the consideration of carbon taxes from debates over size of government, most carbon tax proposals are now revenue-neutral. This proposal, however, would go one step further by shrinking the overall size of government and streamlining the regulatory state. Eliminating or phasing out an array of energy-related regulations would reduce government bureaucracy, promote economic growth ”

        http://www.clcouncil.org/media/2017/03/The-Conservative-Case-for-Carbon-Dividends.pdf

        That is, why it is not a “plan”, but a trap.

        Look. i have been around these kind of “plans” for a while. it is what conservatives with little or no interest in climate change come up with, when they face too much pressure. They fight all other measures, insisting on the a carbon tax being the most efficient way of fighting climate change (which they are not interested in). Then when a carbon tax is propose, they insist that it should not be done on a national level, but on a higher level (european or global). Then they insist on a very low starting level for the tax. And tiny increases. And they want to exclude all major energy users (as they will go out of business, when hit by a carbon tax).
        The effect can be seen in Europe, with companies get so many certificates for free.

      • Martin Smith

        sod, you have switched from misrepresenting me to misrepresenting yourself.

        sod wrote previously: “sorry, but i am pretty sure that “massive action fast” is a much better plan than “less Government, less pollution” (from your pdf),…”

        You are saying there that “Less Government, Less Pollution…” is their plan, but it is not their plan. Less government and less pollution can result from their plan because unnecessary regulations can be eliminated. See “The Four Pillars of the Carbon Dividends Plan” here: http://www.clcouncil.org/media/2017/03/The-Conservative-Case-for-Carbon-Dividends.pdf

        Pillars 1, 2, and 3 are the revenue-neutral carbon tax. Theses pillars represent more government, not less, although not a lot more if implemented properly. Pillar 4 represents less government by less regulation, but that pillar is only enabled by the success of pillars 1, 2, and 3.

        e.g. It will no longer be necessary to regulate tail pipe emissions when cars no longer have tail pipes.

        Now sod writes: “Martin, I am not misrepresenting you. I am directly quoting from the pdf (page 3) in your link: “Less Government, Less Pollution … This proposal, however, would go one step further by shrinking the overall size of government and streamlining the regulatory state. Eliminating or phasing out an array of energy-related regulations would reduce government bureaucracy, promote economic growth ”

        So “less Government, less pollution” is not their plan as you claimed it is, but is their next step which is enabled by the success of pillars 1, 2, and 3. Implicit in their “one step further” is the elimination of regulations that are no longer needed. You can’t argue we should continue regulating tail pipe emissions once all vehicles are electric.

        But I get your point: Today’s Republicans in power are devious and intransigent. They will try to eliminate regulations we actually still need. I agree, but the Republicans behind this proposal are not today’s Republicans. They are yesterday’s Republicans who still believed there is such a thing as good governance and who know that in the US, the way to achieve good governance requires compromise. In this case, the way to do that is to accept their plan, or something like it, implement the revenue-neutral carbon tax, which is necessary but not sufficient, and THEN argue about which regulations are no longer needed. If you can’t do that, then you can’t be part of the American solution, because the Green New Deal will not become law without Republican support.

      • I don’t know about this particular iteration, not having read the link you are discussing, but at least one version of the GOP carbon tax including what to me is a poison pill: the stipulation that a RNCT, once passed, would eliminate all consideration of any other carbon mitigation measures. IOW, ‘give up on any other regulation, and we’ll let you have the carbon tax.’

        Since the RNCT would not, as you say, be “sufficient”, such a stipulation should in my view be firmly ruled out from the get-go. Compromise in the political sense is fine–but compromise, in the other meaning of “render unfit for purpose”, not so much. It is, I think, necessary that no measure become an excuse for inaction.

      • Sorry Martin, but i still do not think that i misrepresent anything.

        Instead i still struggle hard to understand your concept of what a is considered to be a “plan”.

        If i understand you correctly, it is like this:

        1. Anything that is not developed by experts is not a plan.

        2. Anything that can not pass a Senate dominated by republicans is not a plan.

        3. The pillar number 4 of a a “four pillar carbon plan” (pdf page 3) is not part of that carbon plan.

        But i am not interested in a discussion over semantics. I am convinced, that a more or less revenue neutral carbon tax is the basis of all carbon plans that exist at this moment.
        But i even think, that the time of the carbon tax might be over already. Look at electric cars for example: those need a huge carbon investments first, that is paid of over time and would be massively punished by a carbon tax without exceptions (which makes any reduction of regulation unlikely).

      • Martin Smith

        sod wrote: “If i understand you correctly, it is like this:”

        You don’t understand me correctly. Your three points do not describe what I’ve written. Your points 1 and 2 “aren’t even wrong.” They have nothing to do with my position. Point 3 is actually wrong because pillar 4 is part of the plan, but the point was pillar 4 comes after the implementation of pillars 1, 2, and 3. So first, the plan is to implement the RNCT so that then we can end unnecessary regulations. And second, you said pillar for IS their plan; it isn’t.
        sod then wrote: “But i am not interested in a discussion over semantics. I am convinced, that a more or less revenue neutral carbon tax is the basis of all carbon plans that exist at this moment.”

        Canada has just started a RNCT, but other than that one, I don’t think there are any. Certainly there is not a national one in the US. And “more or less revenue-neutral” is not revenue-neutral. ALL the revenue must be distributed to ALL the tax-paying people on an equal basis. Semantics do matter.
        sod then wrote: “Look at electric cars for example: those need a huge carbon investments first, that is paid of over time and would be massively punished by a carbon tax without exceptions…” I think that’s wrong in the sense that the carbon investments in ICE cars must be much greater. And as I and others have pointed out, the RNCT is necessary to set the correct incentives for everyone, but it is not sufficient. Other incentive regulations can either exempt carbon-based electricity used to charge electric vehicles, or the tax on petroleum burned in ICE vehicles can be taxed higher.

      • Actually carbon taxes are much more common than most people realize, and they are becoming more so as time goes on. Specifics vary widely, so this or that one may or may not qualify as ‘revenue neutral’. But for what it’s worth, here’s a somewhat up-to-date list–2017–with lots of supplementary detail for those who like that sort of thing:

        https://www.carbontax.org/where-carbon-is-taxed/

        More up-to-date yet is this piece from 2018, which is kind of a big deal, since China’s carbon tax came into effect in July of that year! As the linked article notes, that brought fully a quarter of the world’s emissions under the aegis of one carbon tax or another.

        https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/6/15/15796202/map-carbon-pricing-across-the-globe

        Apparently there are more than 40 nations currently pricing carbon in some form or other, with another 60 or so considering doing so.

      • Martin Smith

        Maybe a better name than revenue-neutral is needed. It means: No revenue is raised by the tax because all of it is returned to the people who paid it in the first place, but on an equal basis. No money is raised for actions to mitigate climate change; no money is raised to support R&D on renewable energy technologies. No money is raised for any other purpose.The one purpose of the RNCT is to change psychology so that the people know they will save more money by burning less carbon, and the corporations know they will earn more money by producing products that burn less carbon. It is purely social engineering. Like traffic lights and stop signs, all the RNCT does is direct how people behave, and it does it transparently.

        Cap & Trade isn’t as good for this because it looks like a game corporations can play with each other to continue polluting. A revenue-producing tax won’t work because by now, the people have been conditioned to believe the revenue will be used to build an aircraft carrier or to support welfare queens or to provide free tuition for poor people who have wide-screen TVs so why should they get free tuition.

        With the RNCT, the denial cult can’t get anyone riled about Al Gore flying his private jet or Leonardo Dicaprio driving his super-yacht at 30 knots, because when Al and Leon burn more carbon, everyone else gets a bigger RNCT check at the end of the month.

  6. Let us look at an electric car and a diesel car in comparison. I will use dollar values to symbolize CO2 output, the numbers should be pretty similar.

    The electric car costs $80000 and uses $20000 over the next 5 years (which could be directly translated into CO2 output).

    the diesel car costs $40000, but it costs $60000 to keep it running over 5 years.

    After 5 years both cars break even (in cost and CO2 output) and after that, the electric car starts earning money in comparison.

    Now your carbon tax would need to be pretty high to change anything (20%? 30%?). It would hit the electric car really badly, increasing the upfront cost to insane $100000+, with a slow reclaim over 5 years.
    At the same time, the “revenue neutrality” that you prefer would basically refund the diesel users additional costs as it is being paid over the first 5 years. He would basically not see any difference, until after 5 years.

    • sod writes: “The electric car costs $80000 and uses $20000 over the next 5 years (which could be directly translated into CO2 output).”

      The electric car doesn’t cost $80000. It can cost substantially less than that:
      https://www.energysage.com/electric-vehicles/costs-and-benefits-evs/electric-car-cost/

      Nor would the electric car use $20000 over 5 years. It could need about 12600 kwh over 5 years. at 11 cents per kwh, it would cost about $1400.
      https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_charging_home.html

      There would be carbon costs to generate the electricity in many locations in the early years, but, again, electricity used to charge electric cars can be exempted from the tax. The carbon used to mine the rare earths used to make the electronics and the batteries can be exempted from the tax. The carbon used to produce the other materials should be less for the electric car than for the ICE car because electric cars are lighter and have fewer parts.

      I can’t understand your remarks about the diesel car user. He will be paying the tax on each gallon of diesel. If he burns a lot of gallons of diesel, he won’t get back anywhere near as much as he pays.

      • Yeah, sod is a good commenter, but his numbers on this one are way, way off.

        In the case of real-world RNCTs, such as the British Columbia one, the primary effect on EVs versus ICEs is via fuel costs: the ICE pays them, a BEV does not.

    • Look, i love the concept of electric cars. I am just pointing out the problems of a revenue neutral carbon tax for electric cars today.

      my numbers above were made up, but they are semi-realistic. Also remember that i use the $-values both as a cost and a CO2 number at the same time (so they can not be compared with real prices of real cars). I also try to end with the 100k price tag over 5 years, so that we can easily look at the effect of a percentage tax. VW has just released a study, that shows their new electric cars would break even after about 5 years (i think this is a pessimistic scenario, but my calculations are solidly based on this estimate by a company that is starting to get serious about electric cars).

      There is a serious problem with a revenue neutral carbon tax: If i am an average CO2 user (which i would again translate into money as having an average income) and i drive an average car, then the revenue neutral tax will refund me for all the extra money that i spend on the tax for running my car. I will not see any effect of the tax.
      But if i decide to buy a new electric car, i will have to pay the CO2 tax for that car upfront (the main reason being, battery production is still CO2 intensive).

      • “i use the $-values both as a cost and a CO2 number at the same time (so they can not be compared with real prices of real cars).”

        No offense, but I think that really muddies the waters here. I don’t find it an illuminating method, particularly in the absence of a specific calculation to derive the ‘mixed cost.’

        As for your argument that RNCT would impact BEVs more (or at least more immediately) than ICEs, I really can’t see it. First, I don’t think the differential ‘upfront’ is as large as you seem to imply. Here’s what the UCS had to say about the matter:

        Manufacturing a mid-sized EV with an 84-mile range results in about 15 percent more emissions than manufacturing an equivalent gasoline vehicle. For larger, longer-range EVs that travel more than 250 miles per charge, the manufacturing emissions can be as much as 68 percent higher.

        These differences change as soon as the cars are driven. EVs are powered by electricity, which is generally a cleaner energy source than gasoline. Battery electric cars make up for their higher manufacturing emissions within eighteen months of driving—shorter range models can offset the extra emissions within 6 months—and continue to outperform gasoline cars until the end of their lives.

        https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/life-cycle-ev-emissions#.Vv0_OhIrKRt

        (NB., that report is dated November 2015, if you go to the PDF version. Since then the electric grid has gotten relatively cleaner in most countries, certainly including China, the US, India and the UK, which means that the carbon footprint of auto manufacturing has probably shrunk, too.)

        Anyway, the upfront 2015 ‘BEV penalty’ ranged from 15-68%; it’s a reasonable guess that since the the trend has been toward the upper end of that range, since BEV ranges have grown dramatically (though it’s also possible that increased efficiency in terms of emissions/range has offset this; cutting emissions is usually also a cost-cutter).

        According to your logic, both ICE and BEV owners get refunded for the total cost of their emissions; the advantage to the latter accrues essentially from finance costs, since the former has to pay up front. But the same UCS report says that “We found that battery electric cars generate half the [lifetime] emissions of the average comparable gasoline car, even when pollution from battery manufacturing is accounted for.” So, do you think that the finance advantage amounts to double the CO2 cost over the vehicle lifetime? I’m dubious–though I would certainly agree that there is sensitivity to upfront cost, and that that represents some disadvantage.

        But I don’t think that the logic equating BEV and ICE refund levels is necessarily correct in the first place.; Whereas RNCTs usually apply pretty directly to fossil fuels (as in the BC case), the emissions from manufacturing are only indirectly taxed. And at each step of the economic chain, there’s the potential for incomplete pass-through of costs. (It’s also internationalized (since the materials are globally-traded commodities), subject to a considerable degree to materials substitution, subject to a time-lag between mining, refining, transporting and use and to market vagaries–so the economic picture on this part is, I think, really muddled.) I guess, though, that in most cases, the impact of the RNCT on BEV manufacture would be less than you think.

        Also, note that an RNCT would also tend to clean up the electric grid, which would also reduce the carbon footprint (and thus tax burden) of all auto manufacturing, but not the costs of auto fuels.

      • Martin Smith

        sod writes: “There is a serious problem with a revenue neutral carbon tax: If i am an average CO2 user […] and i drive an average car, then the revenue neutral tax will refund me for all the extra money that i spend on the tax for running my car. I will not see any effect of the tax.”

        Many of the above average CO2 users will decide to reduce their CO2 use. As they reduce their CO2 use, you will receive less return for your average CO2 use, and you will become an above average CO2 user. Then the tax rate will be raised.

        Buying a new EV will then make better sense, and the CO2 used to make batteries will be exempted anyway.

      • I am not sure, if it is a good idea if big users (aka rich guys) can easily reduce their tax, while normal guys can not or at least struggle to do so.

        The advantage of tax is an automatic effect in several parts of the economy, hopefully steering CO2 reductions in the most efficient way.
        The problem with the tax is, that we have little control over these effects.

        The tax will have an fast effect on flights, but this could also look unfair, as rich people might simply be able to pay the extra money.
        it could speed up transition from coal to gas, because this would see a fast reduction, but this could lock in natural gas as a fossile fuel for another 2 decades.

        The tax will seriously help, when electric cars are cheaper to produce (CO2 wise and most likely money wise at the same time), which should happen not so far in the future, with real mass production kicking in.

        But i doubt that we will ever be able to remove other rules, like by pillar 4 of the conservative CO2 plan.

  7. Michael D Sweet.

    Sod,
    Where do you come up with such an insane increase in the cost of the electric car??? You appear to just be making these numbers up. I cannot imagine a carbon tax that started so high to cause this much increase in the cost of a car. Please provide a citation.

    I make up the number that the electric car goes up $5000 and the diesel car goes up $4000 from the carbon tax. The electric car is still cheaper in the long run using your numbers.

    Because electric cars require much less maintenance and the cost of fuel is much less than a diesel car The cost of running the diesel car is double the cost or running the electric car. You have drastically overestimated the cost of an electric car and underestimated the cost of the diesel car.

    A Chevy Bolt only costs $36,600 so you need to divide your electric car cost in half.

    https://thinkprogress.org/gas-cars-electric-vehicles-battery-price-99d1f99ab987/ this article byJ oe Rohm describes the cost of electric and iCE cars. According to Bloomburg ““Sales of internal combustion passenger vehicles have already peaked, and may never recover,” BNEF’s Electric Vehicle Outlook 2019 finds”. Please link a source for your wild guesses.

    • Yeah, it’s still early days in the transition away from ICEs, but in quite a few markets we’re seeing reports of increases in BEV sales, *even as overall auto sales decline*–despite the fact that battery tech isn’t yet available across all market segments!

      I wonder if quite a few folk, like me, are trying to wait out availability of the right electric model for them by nursing along old ICEs (again, like my 2003 Subaru Forester, which now has over 260k miles on it). My inclinations often don’t match those of society at large, I find–it tends to make me a poor picker of stocks, sadly!–but neither am I a complete contrarian. So if there is a sizable number of folks thinking the same thing I am on this matter, there could be some really eye-popping growth rates in EV sales as models proliferate and prices drop (which they will, just based on economies of scale/learning curves).

      A tantalizing feather in the wind is the Audi e-tron “Not For You” commercial, which I’ve been seeing quite a bit lately. (If curious, you can find it on Youtube.) Basically, it’s a witty debunking of common misconceptions/denialist anti-BEV talking points, and I find it refreshing and hopeful to see a major manufacturer doing that–purely from commercial motives, of course…

      I also suspect that they are tailoring their ads to particular markets–there is little action in EVs here in South Carolina, a stark difference from Atlanta, where I used to see specimens of the Nissan Leaf on the road all the time. I’m guessing Atlantans aren’t seeing the “Not For You” ad so much, but rather something emphasizing the positives of the e-tron. Be interesting to see how sales do, when the thing actually comes out. I won’t be buying one: it’s in the luxury class, roughly matching sod’s price point (starting price, $75k.)

    • I totally share your opinion about electric cars. I am totally in support of those!

      My calculation above is a comparison between a pretty big electric car (think Tesla, possibly less efficient) and a much cheaper petrol/diesel car with a pretty high gasoline use. So i am trying to do a fair comparison.

      For cars with a big battery (and those seem to be in demand today, for a big range), i assume that the production CO2 output is about twice of that of a combustion engine one.

      In Germany, we had some sort of a 4000 € subsidy for electric cars, which did not seem to make a difference. so i would argue that we need to do more, to move people into electric cars. But unfortunately, a revenue neutral carbon tax would initially have a counter productive effect. That is the only thing i wanted to point out about the conservative CO2 plan (4 pillars) that was linked to in comments above.

  8. Thanks for the graph. I see it’s from CT; I wonder when/where the underlying study came from?

    I ‘hear’ your argument on RNCT, but think the effect would not be nearly as large as you fear.

    • The main problem is not RNCT, but the idea of removing all other rules at the same time.

      Conservatives know full well, that a “pure” RNCT, if poorly executed might actually help fossil fuel industries for a certain amount of time and/or in certain fields of business.

      We are playing against a type of player, that is making the most of all the advantages he can get. For example, Germany is just debating an exit date for coal. The industry is fighting hard for the year 2038 to be the final year for coal.
      But a simple look at the renewable trajectory will already tell you, that there is no room left for coal far before that date (in 10 years renewables will cause coal plants into some on/off mode that they will not survive economically). So the fight about the end year is not about coal running that long, but about getting extra payoffs later by offering to close coal plants more early (shortly before they are closed anyway).

      • Martin Smith

        sod wrote: “The main problem is not RNCT, but the idea of removing all other rules at the same time.”

        You are creating a problem where there isn’t one. “removing all other rules” has not been suggested. Removing unnecessary rules has been suggested, but the definition of “unnecessary rule” that has been implied is that a rule is unnecessary if the RNCT itself makes it unnecessary. That means the effect of the RNCT must include the effect of the regulation.

        sod then writes: “We are playing against a type of player, that is making the most of all the advantages he can get.”

        That is and has always been the basis of the legislative branch of the federal government. If you can’t play that way, then you can’t play.

      • Agreed. Some GOP versions of RNCT include that as a sort of ‘poison pill’, and I would be dead set against that.

  9. I keep forgetting to post this bit of climate news:

    https://cleantechnica.com/2019/05/17/in-a-first-indias-quarterly-solar-generation-exceeds-10-terawatt-hours/

    A little underwhelming when one considers the total share, but still a pretty big change from the past.

    And, better:

    https://cleantechnica.com/2019/05/17/india-to-surpass-paris-agreement-commitment-says-moodys/

    India has set a target to have 175 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity operational by March 2022. This target is further extended to 500 gigawatts by 2030. By that year the share of renewable energy capacity would likely reach 59% from the current 22%.

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