The moral case for a cap-and-trade on greenhouse gasses

They allow everyone to give up whatever he would least miss.

Kevin Drum, from his new perch at Mother Jones, explains why carbon taxes or the equivalent in cap-and trade are superior to every other approach to reducing our collective GHG footprint: because they allow each of us to give up whatever he would miss the least.

I think I’m going to use Kevin’s post the next time I teach about external costs and how to manage them.

Footnote Mike O’Hare would yell at me if I didn’t point out that the tax or cap should be on greenhouse gases (appropriately weighted) not just on carbon. A methane molecule and a carbon dioxide molecule each contain one carbon atom, but methane is about 20 times as bad in terms of trapping heat.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: