Report: Current Carbon-Dioxide Prices Won’t Meet Temperature Target

Published November 15, 2018

The price governments in developed countries impose on carbon dioxide emissions in order to meet their commitments under the 2015 Paris climate agreement are far too low to achieve the stated temperature target, a new report says.

Almost every country in the world is party to the Paris climate agreement, the central goal of which is to limit any rise in the average global temperature, keeping it below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The target reflects the assumption human greenhouse gas emissions are causing the average global temperature to rise and is based on climate models projecting a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees or possibly even 1.5 degrees Celsius would make the Earth’s climate more dangerous and unpredictable and cause an increase in weather extremes.

Many countries have instituted taxes on carbon dioxide or carbon cap-and-trade schemes to meet their Paris agreement targets by discouraging the use of fossil fuels and forcing adoption of renewable energy sources. The price attached to carbon dioxide emissions under these policies, however, is far too low to achieve the reductions necessary to meet temperature targets in the Paris climate agreement, states a new report by IHS Markit, a commercial, global information provider.

“Carbon-pricing mechanisms, including carbon taxes and emission-trading systems, are falling well short of the levels needed to achieve low-emission targets,” IHS Markit wrote in its September 24 report.

Far Below Projected Need

The average carbon price across the Group of 20 (G20), the world’s largest economies, is the equivalent of $16 per metric ton of carbon dioxide. That’s far short of the reduction needed to meet the Paris climate agreement targets, which require a global-economy-wide carbon price of between $40 per metric ton and $80 per metric ton by 2020, the report states.

Even at the current prices governments are imposing on carbon dioxide emissions, developed economies adopting carbon restrictions are hurting themselves while doing little to affect climate change, says Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.

“The European Union (EU) and some other developed countries are hurting their economies with energy-rationing policies such as carbon taxes and cap-and-trade programs,” Ebell said. “While making fossil energy more expensive is reducing emissions somewhat in these countries, it isn’t doing much to reduce global emissions.

“Carbon taxes are transferring emissions produced by energy-intensive heavy industries in European Union countries to China or to developing countries,” said Ebell. “This is a good way to impoverish people in the EU and enrich people in China, but it will do very little to lower global greenhouse gas emissions, since China’s emissions are now about the same as total U.S. and EU emissions combined.”

Joe Barnett ([email protected]) writes from Arlington, Texas.


“G20 Carbon Price Signals Insufficient to Reach Paris Agreement Goals,” IHS Markit, September 24, 2018: