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Carbon taxes alone won't be enough to meet Paris Agreement targets

If governments find ways to encourage development and deployment of carbon removal strategies, they may not have to raise carbon taxes as much over the long term, researchers say.

By Brooks Hays
Carbon taxes alone won't be enough to meet Paris Agreement targets
Carbon taxes are sufficient to encourage the adoption of low-carbon technologies, but they fail to incentivize the development of carbon capture strategies, which are needed to meet the Paris Agreement targets. Photo by Free-Photos/Pixabay/UPI

Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Carbon taxes alone won't be enough to slow climate change and limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, according to a new study published in the journal Joule.

If the Paris Agreement target is to be met, researchers claim global carbon emissions must hit zero by 2070 and become negative afterwards, via carbon-capture technologies. But carbon taxes, on their own, won't be sufficient to shrink emissions to zero during the next half-century.

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"The current system of penalizing greenhouse gas emissions through carbon taxes is not sufficient to avoid catastrophic climate change, even if very high taxes are enforced," Habiba Daggash, a doctoral student in energy systems at Imperial College London, said in a news release. "Therefore, using this strategy alone, the Paris Agreement that most countries have committed to could not be delivered."

In addition to taxing carbon, authors of the latest study suggest world governments and international policy makers must put a price on emissions.

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"The system needs to be adapted to recognize that not only do emissions need to be penalized, but actions that result in permanent removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere must also be credited," Daggash said.

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Mostly, policy makers have focused on pricing emissions through taxes. The latest analysis showed an increase in carbon taxes in the United Kingdom would be sufficient to drive investments in low-carbon technologies and meet short-term emissions goals. However, in climate and economic models, high carbon taxes failed to incentivize the development of carbon removal strategies.

If governments can find ways to encourage the development and deployment carbon removal strategies earlier, they may not have to raise carbon taxes as much over the long term.

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"Early incentives could both reduce the cost of delivering the Paris Agreement and satisfy our long-term need for negative emissions," Habiba said.

Researchers are currently working to determine whether their findings are applicable to developing economies like Nigeria.

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