Times Says: We Must Pay More for Fossil Fuels

The New York Times published an editorial today about "an unpleasant and inescapable truth: any serious effort to fight [global] warming will require everyone to pay more for energy." The piece then goes on to dismiss carbon taxes as politically unfeasible, and discusses the merits of cap-and-trade systems, emphasizing that in order to work, they will have to cause financial pain:

Because a trading system would not impose new taxes, some in Congress might try to portray it as a free ride. But it would work the same way higher taxes would work — by raising the cost of fossil fuels. The higher prices would encourage efficiency and spur investment in a range of clean-energy technologies, without which major reductions would be almost impossible to achieve.

As the year rolls on, Congress will entertain several cap-and-trade bills: some more aggressive and costly, others offering various escape mechanisms should prices get too high. But one fundamental point must be kept in mind. We are now using the atmosphere as a free dumping ground for carbon emissions. Unless we — industry and consumers — are made to pay a significant price for doing so, we will never get anywhere.