Saturday, July 1, 2017

Will Electric Vehicles Curb Global Carbon Emissions? Perhaps Not. Part 2

In an earlier post, I questioned whether electric cars are really going to save the environment. Specifically, I questioned whether their overall carbon footprint was any less than that of an efficient gas-powered car. The question is complex, however, and I ran out of energy after a couple of paragraphs. Thus I entitled the piece Will Electric Vehicles Curb Global Carbon Emissions? Perhaps Not. Part 1 intending to return to the subject at a later date when my energy level was sufficient for the necessary research.

Today I embarked on that task but soon became enervated by the effort to assimilate a mass of information about embodied energy per vehicle versus propulsion system, vehicle mass, location of manufacture; energy cost of highway infrastructure; and much else besides. Thus, before reaching the point of total inanition, I paused for reflection, and came to the conclusion that the issue of electric cars and carbon emissions could be argued all ways indefinitely without definite conclusion.

How then should we deal with the challenge of transportation-related carbon emissions?

Seemingly, we  should do nothing specifically because we will never agree on what is, specifically, the best solution. But if we do nothing specifically, how can we avoid suffocating on our own toxic emissions?

The solution, amazingly, is elementary. We should rely on fiscal policy. We should tax what we don't want, and stop taxing what we do want, which means taxing carbon emissions, while making compensating cuts to income tax.

That way, the entire economy works to cut carbon emissions while increasing production of non-carbon-polluting goods and services.

That means no one need worry over the fact that making the battery for a Tesla Roadster produces as much carbon as a gas-powered Fiat 500 produces when driven for ten years.

That means we needn't worry if our rich neighbor's school-break family holiday, first-class to Hawaii, added ten tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person.

All we do need to worry about are:

1. That the carbon tax is set at, or rises to, the point where, if universally applied, global emissions are consistent with long-term human health and happiness.

2. Nations applying a carbon tax prevent free-riding by other nations by means of a countervailing tariff on goods and services from countries without a carbon tax at an appropriate rate.

If those conditions are met, then we can leave a solution to the problem of carbon emissions to the magic of the market. People who can cut their carbon emissions easily will do so, because it's an easy way to save money or increase their corporate profit. Those who cannot easily cut their carbon emissions, me for example, while watching the bubbles rise in a glass of beer, will pay the tax.

The net result? Carbon emissions will be curbed to whatever degree required at the lowest cost to the economy as a whole without the need for regulation of industry, without hectoring the public about how they should live their lives or spend their hard-earned income, and without brainwashing school children about the evils of industry, of human reproduction, of automobiles, or whatever it is that the politically correct happen to be moralizing about now.


Swedish study: driving gasoline auto for over 8 years equals CO2 emissions produced by making the battery for the Tesla S or almost 3 for Nissan Leaf!

Does The Tesla Model S Electric Car Pollute More Than An SUV?

The Prius Fallacy - Rex Weyler

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