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Seeking a Meaningful Price on Carbon

For related articles and more information please visit the OCA's Resource Center on Agriculture and Climate and our page on Organic Transitions.

One month ago, Wesleyan University hosted a weekend conference called "Pricing Carbon." It was a revival meeting of sorts, bringing together about 500 economists, campaigners, scientists, students and lawmakers seeking, despite  recent setbacks, to apply the age-old " polluter pays" principle to carbon.

A prime goal of many attendees, from carbon campaigners  Charles Komanoff and  Peter Barnes to  James Hansen of NASA, was to explore various strategies for creating a carbon tax that American consumers could accept.

I couldn't attend, so I asked two students of  Gary Yohe, a Wesleyan economist and conference organizer, to reflect on what they learned at the meeting, given the incredibly tough politics surrounding the climate challenge and any discussion of a tax. You can read my exchanges with the students, David Wei and William Monson, below.

In reviewing many of the presentations, which are nearly all archived online, it's clear that the death of a federal cap-and-trade system for curbing emissions is seen as a potential opening by proponents of a more direct approach to making polluting energy choices costly while buffering the impact on consumers.


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