Argument: The necessity of a cap-and-trade system depends on the case being made that the environment is seriously, catastrophically threatened:
- Congressional Budget Office, "Limiting Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Prices Versus Caps", 3/15/05 - "Intuitively, the case for a cap on emissions would appear to be much stronger if there were evidence that temperature increases above a certain threshold would cause catastrophic damages--especially given the inertia of the climate system and the long adjustment to changes in concentrations. That possibility might seem to call for a cap on emissions to avoid crossing the threshold. But that intuition holds true only under a very restrictive set of circumstances:(3) There must be a trigger temperature that, if exceeded, results in a steep increase in damages; Policymakers must have clear information about what that trigger temperature is; and The threshold must be sufficiently near so that policymakers would want to virtually shut down emissions--regardless of the cost--to avoid, or delay, crossing it...Under those circumstances, either an emission price or an emission cap (appropriately set) would probably yield very large net benefits, but the expected net benefits from using an emission cap would be greater. If there is uncertainty about either the existence or the level of a trigger temperature--as is currently the case--the potential advantages of an emission cap decline."