The realities of the energy transition – repeatedly outlined by the IPCC – make it clear that lives in the Global North must change. The world cannot simply trade out the fossil fuel energy system and replace it with renewables like one would a set of batteries. Expecting everything else to remain the same is a form of science denial.
While putting a price on carbon, either through a tax or cap-and-trade regulations, could shift some patterns, it would leave inequality unaddressed. Moreover, a carbon tax assumes the private sector will do all the work of decarbonisation, ignoring the central role of public provisions like mass transit systems. In the Global North, the rich will continue their extraordinary consumption, while the poor, without assistance, will see skyrocketing prices for their daily commutes.