persson1_Artem Hvozdkov_emissions Artem Hvozdkov/Getty Images

The Time Has Come for a Global Carbon Emissions Tax

Since the 2015 UN climate conference in Paris, emissions have continued to rise steadily, increasing the concentration of atmospheric CO2 at an alarming rate. Clearly, the prevailing approach to climate action – centered on voluntary, quantitative targets – is fundamentally flawed.

STOCKHOLM – The problem is staggering, even existential. Global emissions of greenhouse gases – especially carbon dioxide – are rapidly driving up global temperatures, transforming life as we know it. If those temperatures reach 2oC above pre-industrial levels, scientists warn, the results will be catastrophic. An international conference is called, under the auspices of the United Nations. Politicians declare that the world must curb CO2 emissions to avoid exceeding the 2oC threshold. And then nothing substantial happens.

The 2015 UN climate conference in Paris was supposed to be different. It produced a document, signed by 197 parties, containing general guidelines for climate policy and memorializing a global commitment finally to address the problem. As usual, however, emissions have continued to rise steadily, increasing the concentration of atmospheric CO2 at an alarming rate. Last year’s climate conference in Katowice, Poland – which focused on making the Paris commitments more specific and binding – did nothing to change this.

The reason UN climate conferences keep failing is straightforward: their agendas – centered on voluntary, quantitative targets – are fundamentally flawed.

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