In December 2015, the world’s leading countries signed an agreement in Paris that committed them to action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, so as to limit the scale of current global warming. If this is to be done, action is required to improve energy efficiency, but also to genuinely “decarbonize” production systems. Now, as Alain Grandjean and Mireille Martini emphasize here, the transition to a decarbonized economy has very little chance of coming about as long as there are no costs attached to emitting greenhouse gases. Hence the importance of establishing a carbon “price-signal” that encourages countries to redesign their economic model.
After rehearsing the various conceivable arrangements for taxing carbon and the way its price might be set, Grandjean and Martini look more specifically at France, Europe and the European emissions-trading market. They show how that market is still imperfect in its operation and stress the need for complementary provisions. Lastly, they examine the question of a carbon price-signal at the international level, where such a scheme must necessarily be designed on a differential basis.