Below is Matt Ridley (the new Julian Simon? ...maybe) on his Rational Optimist blog:
A year ago I wrote in these pages that it made no sense for the consumer to subsidize the burning of American wood in place of coal, since wood produces more carbon dioxide for each kilowatt-hour of electricity. The forests being harvested would take four to ten decades to regrow, and this is the precise period over which we are supposed to expect dangerous global warming to emerge. It makes no sense to steal beetles’ lunch, transport it halfway round the world, burning diesel as you do so, and charge hard-pressed consumers double the price for the power it generates.""There was a howl of protest on the letters page from the chief executive of Drax power station, which burns a million tonnes of imported North American wood a year and plans to increase that to 7 million tonnes by 2016. But last week, Dr David MacKay’s report vindicated me. If the wood comes from whole trees, as much of it does, then the effect could be to increase carbon dioxide emissions, he finds, even compared with coal. And that’s allowing for the regrowth of forests.
With all such programs it is difficult to tell if the effects are positive let alone the cost per unit of CO2 saved.
Another example is CAFE which MIT estimates costs 6 to 14 times (see excerpt below) more than a carbon tax per unit of CO2 saved.
For comparison, she deﬁned FES and RFS regulations that would achieve a 20% cumulative reduction in gasoline consumption between 2010 and 2050. She also designed a gasoline tax policy that would elicit the same cumulative reduction. (The tax was implemented as a constant percentage of the gasoline price, starting at $1.00 per gallon in 2010.) Consistent with other studies, her analysis of those three measures indicates that taxing gasoline is 6 to 14 times less costly than the alternative policies in achieving a 20% reduction in the use of that fuel between 2010 and 2050.People get upset when the see new taxes but the cost of increasing MPGs is hidden in the price of a car and so voters are oblivious to this tax, and it is a tax. Of course the politicians know this but they like their positions.
Environmentally concerned democrats should insist on a carbon tax or nothing. Your politicians are scamming you, not because you are stupid but because they are professionals who work on this stuff all day everyday and you are amateurs, as you should be but you can win on this issue. If they vote for stuff like ethanol or biomass throw the bums out. Even cap and trade is complicated enough that they will eat voters lunch is it is passed.