Sally White: A few lingering questions on carbon emissions

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It was with great interest that I read Jim De Bree’s opinion piece “Economics of carbon emissions” in the April 27 issue of The Signal. In his presentation and detailed analysis of “Trends in Global CO2 emissions: 2016 report” he made a number of notable points to consider.

There are two questions I would offer for Mr. De Bree’s consideration. He notes that particularly China and India account for about 39 percent of global fossil fuel emissions, and that the United States largely is involved in the shifting of power production to processes having a smaller carbon footprint.

I wonder how much of the disparity between the CO2 emissions of the United States and China may have to do with the fact that much of the manufacturing of products consumed in the United States, and formerly manufactured here, has been shifted to China and other countries using largely coal power, thus giving the appearance of greater per capita emissions in those countries and lesser amounts in the U.S.

Is there any reconciliation of CO2 emissions related to the users of products rather than the location of the manufacturing process itself?

Since we in the U.S. are, it appears, consumers of more manufactured goods per capita than any other place in the world, it would be worthwhile to understand how our consumption relates to CO2 emissions on a comparative global scale. Only then might we be able to determine our real carbon footprint.

Another thought for Mr. DeBree’s consideration: In his final statement, “The fastest way to achieve these (CO2) reductions is to allow marketplace forces to act,” I would like to suggest that the idea of placing an annually increasing revenue neutral carbon fee on all carbon entering the United States from any source would have immediate impact on emissions.

With this plan, fees thus collected would be returned to households on an equitable basis, which would, at the same time, provide funds for households to offset any increase in price from carbon-related energy sources, and also encourage further, quicker development of sustainable energy sources.

This is a unique way that the marketplace can more quickly and equitably reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels, and perhaps help slow down the dangerous changes that are worsening daily on our one and only planet home.

Mr DeBree’s articles are always thought-provoking and well-articulated. I am particularly interested in his response to these ideas.

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