Fresh Takes

A pragmatic response to climate change

According to United Nations scientists, we could more easily manage the problem of global warming, and do so at an affordable price, by reclaiming abandoned wasteland.

Around the world, some 900 million hectares could be restored in order to capture carbon and push back by 20 years the negative effects of CO2 emissions on the climate. The cost of such an operation would be US$300 billion. By creating an offset market for carbon emissions, projects would be launched to restore these formerly productive lands.

Rather than simply taxing carbon in the hope that producers and consumers will make an effort to reduce their harmful emissions, the idea would be to also pay entrepreneurs to capture atmospheric CO2 in order to reduce its effects on the climate.

The advantage of this initiative would be to reduce the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere at low cost, rather than naively hoping for these reductions to occur from behavioural changes. The problem with carbon taxation is that in order to succeed in changing behaviour, it must often be very high, which makes it unpopular and regressive.

Helping an industry to develop around the need to recuperate wasteland would likely generate wealth and jobs, and stimulate innovation. At the very least, according to the UN scientists, we would gain 20 more years to help us adequately manage the problem of climate change.

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