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Why a price on carbon cannot fix everything

Some market fundamentalists make that a simple price on carbon (ie an ETS) can fix everything. This is simply wrong, has been proven wrong by many studies and it will remain wrong no matter how often this myth is repeated.

The price of carbon can change some things but not all…. So called market failures, e.g. “irrational”  behavior, split incentives, technological and other barriers make life and economics much more complicated than some economists, ETS enthusiasts and market fundamentalists  would like us to believe.

A simple example: why don’t you go out and buy a new fridge that is much more efficient than your old one and will pay for itself in 3 years? Well, maybe you are planning to move, or don’t have the money, or don’t have the time, or don’t know or simply cannot be bothered because there are more important things than thinking about fridges.

This is why we need many different polices that can address these different “market failures” (and to convince you why buing a super energy efficient fridge is worthwhile).

Here some recent research on why a policy bouquet is necessary to effectively reduce emissions:  

And why do some economists still hang on to this myth of a price that can fix everything? Oh because life would be so much nicer and simpler if it followed the basic theoretic principles of economics. But life is messy and so is climate politics and climate protection. Policy solutions that work in the abstract may turn out to be useless in the real world. This is why there will never be a silver bullet but there are many beautiful solution bouquets!

Latest Publications

  • New report - European Fat Cats: EU Energy Intensive Industries: paid to pollute, not to decarbonise

    This report shows that energy intensive industry sectors have been among the slowest in the European Union (EU) to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and invest in solutions to decarbonise and maintain technological leadership.
  • Letter to President Juncker on the EU’s future finances

    The co-signatories of this letter represent a broad group of business associations, civil society, think tanks and other organisations who are working together to bring strong support to the EU’s commitment to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement objectives.    They have written to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to urge him to ensure that the EU’s future finances are aligned with Europe’s climate objectives and are consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals across all programmes.   Open Letter to President Juncker on the Multi Annual Financial Framework
  • CAN Europe letter ahead of the Informal Environment Council on 10-11 April

    Brussels 29.3.2018 Dear Minister for Environment, At the upcoming Informal Environment Council on 10-11 April in Sofia you have been invited to discuss the European Union’s contribution towards the international climate negotiations and in particular towards the UNFCCC Talanoa Dialogue.
See All: Climate & Energy Targets