Year 4, Month 3, Day 30: A Ham Sandwich Is Better Than Eternal Happiness

The Kennebec Journal (ME) runs an AP story from March 11 on China’s introduction of a carbon tax:

Finally, a nation that is contributing heavily to climate change is taking a major step to reduce its emissions. Unfortunately, this global leadership is not coming from the United States. It’s coming from China.

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, so the news (reported by Xinhua, a state-owned media service) that it’s going to introduce a carbon tax is huge. The tax is unlikely to be on the scale that experts suggest would make a serious dent in climate change: In 2010, China’s ministry of finance suggested levying a carbon tax of 10 yuan ($1.60) per ton in 2012, to rise to 50 yuan ($8) per ton in 2020. Experts have suggested a tax of 500 yuan, or $80 per ton.

Still, even a small Chinese carbon tax would mean a dramatic step forward for the planet. And it’s a lot more than anything the United States has done.

China’s announcement also comes as a bit of a surprise. For years, China has been a strident opponent of coordinated international efforts to combat climate change — rivaled only by the United States in this opposition.

Yet China has much to lose from the steady encroachment of climate change, and it’s finally starting to acknowledge that fact.

AMERICA!!! March 18:

As Europe expands its investments in renewable energy and China embarks on a carbon-taxing scheme, whither American exceptionalism in the first decades of the twenty-first century? While our national output of greenhouse gases may have fallen behind that of India and China, America is still number one in pollution per capita — a dubious distinction that fits well with our capacity for generating trash.

For years, far too many US politicians have argued in favor of doing nothing about climate change, contending that it’s silly to address a runaway greenhouse effect, since China and India are contributing to the problem. Aside from the absurdity of claiming a world leadership position while abdicating the obligations that accompany it, one wonders what those same lawmakers will do now that this policy stance is undermined by events. China’s carbon tax may be a baby step, but at least it’s in the right direction.

Warren Senders

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