The Trouble with Carbon Pricing

Matto Mildenberger and Leah C. Stokes in the Boston Review:

Over a decade ago, California put a price on carbon pollution. At first glance the policy appears to be a success: since it began in 2013, emissions have declined by more than 8 percent. Today the program manages 85 percent of the state’s carbon pollution: the widest coverage of any policy in the world. California’s effort has been lauded as the “best-designed” carbon pricing program in the world.

But while the policy looks good on paper, in practice it has proven weak. Since 2013 the annual supply of pollution permits has been consistently higher than overall pollution. As a result, the price to pollute is low, and likely to remain that way for another decade. This slack in the system has made the policy better at revenue collection than changing corporate behavior.

This is not a surprise.

More here.