Figure 29.2. What price would CO2 need to have in order to drive society to make significant changes in CO2 pollution?
The diagram shows carbon dioxide costs (per tonne) at which particular investments will become economical, or particular behaviours will be significantly impacted, assuming that a major behavioural impact on activities like flying and driving results if the carbon cost doubles the cost of the activity.
As the cost rises through $20–70 per tonne, CO2 would become sufficiently costly that it would be economical to add carbon sequestration to new and old power stations.
A price of $110 per tonne would transform large-scale renewable electricity-generation projects that currently cost 3p per kWh more than gas from pipedreams into financially viable ventures. For example, the proposed Severn barrage would produce tidal power with a cost of 6p per kWh, which is 3.3p above a typical selling price of 2.7p per kWh; if each 1000 kWh from the barrage avoided one ton of CO2 pollution at a value of £60 per ton, the Severn barrage would more than pay for itself.
At $150 per tonne, domestic users of gas would notice the cost of carbon in their heating bills.
A price of $250 per tonne would increase the effective cost of a barrel of oil by $100.
At $370, carbon pollution would cost enough to significantly reduce people’s inclination to fly.
At $500 per tonne, average Europeans who didn’t change their lifestyle might spend 12% of income on the carbon costs of driving, flying, and heating their homes with gas.
And at $900 per tonne, the carbon cost of driving would be noticeable.