Essay competition; what price carbon?

From an email received from the new economics foundation and the Ecologist.

On hearing of the death while riding of one his more stubborn ideological opponents, the champion of evolutionary theory, T H Huxley, said that it was the first time that the man’s head made contact with reality, and the experience had obviously proved fatal. Gordon Brown claims that the world needs “a new paradigm that moves the environmental challenge to the centre of policy”, and yet, in spite of the fact that both the UK and the world as a whole are already in ecological debt due to overconsumption, he remains convinced that the global economy can double in size over the next twenty years.

A lot of faith is being put into carbon markets to tackle climate change. But the markets we do have, like the European Emissions Trading Scheme, are out-of-line with the carbon cuts that science tells us is necessary. In other words, without much more dramatic caps on emissions, we could end up trading ourselves over a global warming cliff. It’s the paradox of environmental economics. Sometimes in well-intentioned attempts to put a price on natural resources, we can miss the bigger picture.

So, to connect our politicians with reality before it is too late, we’ve come up with a question. And, we’d like to know what you think. nef has teamed up with the Ecologist to run an essay competition. The question is:

“How do you price the extra tonne of carbon that, once burned, tips the balance and triggers potentially catastrophic, irreversible global warming?”

All submissions must be under 1,000 words, submitted electronically to mark@theecologist.org and andrew.simms@neweconomics.org and be received by June 30th.

The winner will receive a copy of Andrew Simms’ book, Ecological Debt: Global Warming and the Wealth of Nations, and will be considered for publication in the Ecologist.

A very interesting question.

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