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    Well has to be some natural global warming or the earth freezes over. Its just the current scale will be destructive.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    Allow me to present my take on things, if you would.

    Activities we perform release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at no immediate monetary cost to us and yet it does produce a cost to us through global warming. My economics isn't the best but isn't that a run of the mill negative externality? If so, isn't the way to deal with that to find the cost of fixing the externality (in this case planting trees to remove the CO2 from the atmosphere) and then charging those that release CO2 the cost of removing it again?

    If we did this then companies and individuals who produce CO2 would be motivated by themselves to reduce their emissions and while they are working out how to do that we are fixing the problem. When the problem disappears the tax disappears. A simple solution that is flexible and targeted and which would actually work. So what's the problem?

    And if you say that we haven't got enough land in the UK to plant the trees there is nothing stopping the UK government buying land in other countries to plant trees there, is there?

    So why wouldn't we want to do that and make our country carbon-neutral?
    The costs of emissions aren't linear, so the optimal tax would change as conditions change. Moreover, there isn't enough space in the world to keep planting trees to reduce our emissions - we have to reach a sustainable equilibrium. And lastly, trees take time to grow to the size needed to reduce emissions.

    In short, as well as planting trees, we have to reduce our emissions. Plantint trees is part of the solution, but can't be the entire solution.

    You're right about the externality part - the key is to tax it at the amount equal to the externality. However we don't know what that is even currently, and this will change with circumstances. We can estimate it, which is what this tries to do, but we could be quite significantly out (as in order of magnitudes out). The Stern Review looked at that and suggested that we're likely to be significantly on the side of not taxing it or doing enough yet, so more is good. How much more is debatable.

    Sadly, externality problems are rarely simple. Well, I say sadly, but if they were, my job wouldn't be half as interesting (and may not exist).

    There's nothing wrong with changing the tax rate as circumstances change and there's nothing wrong with planting more trees than we need because the younger ones use up less CO2. I think you're wildly exaggerating to suggest that there isn't enough space in the world to plant enough trees to keep CO2 emissions in balance because the amount of CO2 we can produce is limited by the resources available.

    Let me ask this simple question - is it possible for the UK to plant enough trees either at home or abroad or both to make the UK carbon-neutral? I'm thinking almost certainly yes. In which case why don't we do that? The trees will grow thus further reducing CO2 which gives us cover for the future while we, individually and as companies (as opposed to governments meddling and probably making things worse) come up with ways to reduce our emissions without reducing our quality of life. The taxes encourage this change without forcing it and without dictating how it is done.

    Are you seriously going to suggest that we cannot work out how much CO2 a tree at a given age uses?
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