U.S. Needs Climate Change Plan, Carbon Tax, Says Sachs

The U.S. needs a policy to address climate change and a plan to reduce emissions that may include a carbon tax and bonds, Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs said.

“We have to make a technological transition that’s quite deep to new energy systems, new transport systems, more efficient buildings and that can be back loaded,” Sachs said to reporters today at Climate Week NYC in New York.

The public needs a plan that isn’t just about electricity prices rising, said Sachs. “You can’t tell the public that our plan is cap-and-trade,” he said. “That’s not a plan, that’s frightening, that just means: our electricity prices are going up.”

Sachs suggested that bonds could be used to finance investments to be paid back over their lifetimes. “You could promise today significant feed-in tariffs totally paid for by a backloaded carbon tax.” Not leveling with the public is “the biggest missing thing,” he said.

“I’m happy to have the future pay for a lot of this,” Sachs said. “It can be bond financed --it doesn’t have to be current financed.”

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