Pope Francis, Carbon Credits, and a Carbon Tax

Millennial writer Daniel DiLeo has a new post at Political Theology Today. He writes:

Nearly one month after the release of Laudato Si’ (LS’), most commentators – myself included – are still trying to wrap their minds around the prophetic, difficult and sometimes unexpected elements of the Catholic Church’s first papal encyclical on ecology. Although there are many such aspects, one that seems especially remarkable is Francis’ explicit critique of “carbon credits” as a means by which to mitigate climate change….

Besides the problems associated with offsets, Philip McMichael convincingly argues in “Contemporary Contradictions of the Global Development Project” that carbon trading mistakenly “recycles the problem as solution,” i.e., attempts to utilize the sort of neoliberalism in which climate change is arguably rooted as the solution to the problem. Finally, and not least important from the perspective of theological ethics, Michael Sandel points out in his essay “Should We Buy the Right to Pollute?” that there seems to be something intrinsically immoral about a system that affirms and legislates a firm’s “right to pollute” (94)….

The leading alternative to carbon credits is arguably a carbon tax. According to Shu, this is due to the fact that carbon taxation can be judged superior or at least equal to all other climate change policies on at least ten fronts: “economic efficiency; excessive formation of capital; non-interference with other regulatory instruments or jurisdictions;” capacity for government to “reduce ‘bads’”; “incentives for innovation- price effects; incentives for innovation- price breadth; administrability; international coordination; revenue raising; price versus quantities under uncertainty” (25-115).

The full post can be read here.