Carbon abolition misunderstands the entire climate change problem

Talk about entirely missing the point:

It is time to do this for climate change: to make human carbon pollution illegal in every country in the world. It is time for a “carbon abolition” movement, to put an end to emissions.

The justification for this is:

Human-induced climate change is a moral wrong. It involves one group of humans harming others. People of this generation harming those in future generations. People in the developed world harming those in the developing world. Each of us is emitting carbon that is harming those caught in climate-driven superstorms, floods, droughts and conflicts. And there’s the greatest moral wrong of all – the mass extinction event we have triggered that harms all life on Earth.

Yet until recently, climate change has not been argued as a moral issue. Rather, it has been presented as a technocratic problem, a cost-benefit problem, where the costs of action must be weighed against the benefits of avoiding disaster. The debates have been around taxes, jobs, growth and technologies. While such debates are important – there are better and worse ways to tackle the climate crisis – the effect has been decades of inaction, denial and delay. When something is a moral wrong, particularly a deep, systemic moral wrong, we don’t wait around debating the optimal path or policy; we stop it.

Which is to entirely miss the point. Emissions also have benefits. Things like transport, heating, cooking, civilisation itself. Therefore the discussion must revolve around the costs and benefits of emitting and the costs and benefits of not emitting. We need, that is, the optimal level of emissions in order to maximise human utility over time.

You know, exactly the interesting question that the work of William Nordhaus, Nick Stern, Marty Weitzman and every other economist who has ever even glanced at the subject discusses.

If there were no cost to “carbon abolition” then we wouldn’t in fact have a problem in the first place. This demand is worse than merely utopian, it’s simply wrong.

It also rather misses the point that making something illegal doesn’t stop it - we only have to look at drugs policy to see that.