Graphic from the IPCC's 'Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report'

Graphic from the IPCC’s ‘Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report’

He’s hardly the first right-of-center energy thinker to come out in favor of a carbon tax, but Jerry Taylor’s story puts a more provocative spin on things: He was a longtime Cato Institute fellow who for years rejected the idea that climate change represented a well-understood, urgent threat, or that it was clear what impact man could have in dealing with it.

All that has changed. Taylor has left Cato to found the libertarian Niskanen Center and embraced the idea that even if we don’t have a precise understanding of the climate-change risk, the risk is clearly real and we are compelled to act. And better a carbon tax – perhaps even a hefty one, albeit revenue-neutral – than EPA regulations, he says.

I am not at war with IPCC narratives. If keeping global temperatures within 2° Celsius of where they were at a certain baseline is the desired objective, then you want a carbon tax that will do that…. I’ve seen some pretty good studies on what happens when you marry the Weitzman fat-tail [risk] scenarios to conventional social-cost-of-carbon calculations. They take your optimal carbon tax, in today’s dollars, anywhere from, say, $70 to $80 a ton to a couple hundred dollars a ton. – Jerry Taylor in a Vox interview