A Green Dream Deferred
Too Much of a Bad Thing
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  • free_agent

    I’d love to know if there is any comparison available between what has happened in Europe with what would have happened if a uniform CO2 emissions tax had been applied. In principle, the tax would generate a given level of emissions reduction at the lowest possible cost. I wonder whether it would have helped in practice in this instance. Although I think that the actual outcome of such a tax would be shifting electricity production to nuclear, as that is the cheapest zero-emission choice.

    I think the deeper problem is that the Greens don’t just want to reduce emissions, they have a vision of how the energy system should work, and that vision has other constraints as well, in particular, eliminating nuclear power. If you take zero CO2 emissions and no nuclear power as constraints, there are no inexpensive sources of electricity.

    One interesting thing is to note that we speak of “Europe’s” policies, but the policies seem to be confined essentially to Germany. And when manufacturers find Germany unfriendly, they don’t relocate across the border elsewhere in Europe, they shift to other regions.

    • Andrew Allison

      Yes, it’s time to stop talking about “Europe’s” electricity problem. France, Belgium and Slovenia derive most of their electricity from nuclear power. Germany’s electricity pricing problem is a self-inflicted wound. The only sensible alternative to fossil fuel for electricity generation is nuclear. It’s expensive, but does eliminate CO2 (40% of US CO2 emissions result from electricity generation). Let’s also keep in mind that the switch natgas, with about half the emissions of coal, in the US doesn’t do much good if the coal is exported to be burned elsewhere.

  • gabrielsyme

    Europe’s choice of 1990 as a benchmark was self-serving and misleading. Guess what was still around in 1990? All the wasteful communist heavy industry in eastern Europe. The closure or upgrading of those plants gave Europe a massive head start on their 20% goal, allowing other nations (Spain) to significantly increase their emissions.

    I would like to know what Europe’s progress has been since 1995, or what western Europe’s progress has been. How does that compare to the US? How does it compare on a per-capita basis? But the sycophantic media continues to parrot numbers that are hugely misleading.

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