The tropical troposphere is where we should see the ‘fingerprint’ of greenhouse warming according to climate models, so Ross McKitrick has devised a Tropical Troposphere Temperature Tax, or ‘T3’ tax. The explanation below is a composite from various T3 tax articles on his website:
Recently I came up with a policy proposal that reconciles my skepticism with the policy activism of the alarmists: calibrate a carbon tax to the average temperature of the region of the atmosphere predicted by climatologists to be most sensitive to CO2. I call it the ‘T3’ tax, and I think the proposal should make everyone happy, except the most extreme alarmists and the Trojan horse-types who see the global warming issue as a vehicle for imposing a set of anti-growth policies that they would want even if global warming fizzles as a pretext.
My “T3” formula – short for Temperature of the Tropical Troposphere – guarantees that, if carbon emissions do not cause global warming, the charge will not go up. The IPCC predicts a warming rate in the tropical troposphere of about double that at the surface, implying about 0.2C to 1.2C per decade in the tropical troposphere under greenhouse-forcing scenarios. That implies the tax will climb by $4 to $24 per tonne per decade, a much more aggressive schedule of emission fee increases than most current proposals. At the upper end of warming forecasts, the tax could reach $200 per tonne of CO2 by 2100, forcing major carbon-emission reductions and a global shift to non-carbon energy sources.
Some people have responded to my T3 idea with the concern that essential increases in the carbon fee might be delayed due to lags in the climate system. But the lags are associated with oceanic responses. According to models, the tropical troposphere responds relatively quickly to carbon emissions. And even if there is a short delay, it is better to learn with a lag than not to learn at all, which is the problem with all other policy plans.
Another advantage of the T3 tax is that it would create a market for accurate climate forecasting. Someone building a billion-dollar power plant would want an objective estimate of the likely carbon emissions price five or 10 years out. Competition would create strong incentives to get the science right. The T3 rule would create market incentives for climate modelers to eliminate sources of exaggeration in their models. And investors would search out the best forecasts to guide their current planning, thereby factoring long-term greenhouse warming changes into today’s investment decisions.
Nor would we need politicians to argue about how weak or strong the long-term policy should be – the atmosphere would decide. If the policy turns out to be too weak to force emission reductions, it would indicate that the climate is not sensitive to emissions.
Climate policy needs to shift from static to dynamic thinking. This requires tying policy to actual greenhouse warming. Anything else is like taking a shot in the dark.
Read Ross McKitrick’s articles on the ‘T3’ tax on his publications website.
Steve McIntyre has plotted a graph over at Climate Audit which shows the UAH (black) and RSS (red) data for the tropics (both divided by 1.2 to synchronize to the surface variations – an adjustment factor that John Christy is said to use in an email). Allso collated is the most recent CRU gridded data and calculated a tropical average for 20S to 20N, shown in green. All series have been centered on a common interval:
Steve notes that there have only been a few months in the past 30 years which have been as cold in the tropical troposphere as March 2008.
In comment 118, Ross McKitrick says, “…when I wrote that chapter last year the T3 tax rate was $4.67. It’s now $3.33 and falling. If this trend continues it could indeed become a subsidy, but to oppose it on the grounds that it might end up as a subsidy for CO2 emissions is to admit that one actually expects global cooling.”
As Ross McKitrick says – Why not tie carbon taxes to actual levels of warming? Both skeptics and alarmists should
expect their wishes to be answered.