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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

  • Letter from UN Secretary General urging EU leaders to ramp up climate action

    In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk leaked by the media last week, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged EU leaders to adopt a long-term vision for a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and commit to increasing the EU's 2030 climate target to 55 percent reductions in emissions.
  • Letter to EU ministers on climate and environmental action in development funding

    Ahead of Foreign Affairs Council on 16 May, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Oxfam EU, ACT Alliance EU, Conservation International and Wetlands International write to EU ministers to highlight how the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) can support developing countries to scale up climate and environmental action and support biodiversity, fostering sustainable development.
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