Omitting to entrench the carbon tax into the framework agreed during the Climate Change conference in Paris, held in December 2015, was a major missed opportunity that could have accelerated the uptake of green technologies, one entrepreneur believes.
According to Wouter Last, president of Dutch technology company Hint, introducing the carbon tax globally would have forced the most polluting industries to urgently look for greener solutions. This would speed up the uptake of energy efficient technologies that already exist but are not yet common due to the high cost.
“Coal and oil are readily available and cheap,” Last said. “It is therefore understandable that companies choose those raw materials. Also, developing and using sustainable technology is not economically viable. Blowing off CO2, on the other hand, is just about free. A carbon tax tackles this problem at the basis, because it makes the alternatives more attractive. This can unleash an energy revolution within a few years from now.”
Switching to less polluting gas instead of coal or oil would be the number one option to reduce the carbon footprint and therefore the sum to be paid to the carbon taxman.
Investing into energy efficiency measures, for example in the built environment, would also make more economic sense for companies if they were pressed by a carbon tax.
“Heat storage in buildings and more advanced electric transport are good examples of this,” Last said. “At present, these innovative methods are not yet economically viable. The required capital exceeds the savings, meaning the industry needs to be stimulated financially before they'll pick it up seriously. This can be accomplished quite easily, with a hefty tax on greenhouse gas that is released in companies' production processes. That is why I think it is remarkable and sad that the world leaders do not choose this route in their fight against global warming.”
The same goes for interest in the thus-far costly CO2 capture and storage technologies.
“It is high time that global politics take measures to make the use of fossil fuels expensive and the development of energy-efficient technology profitable,” said Last.