Can pricing carbon be key to reducing terrorism?

The attacks in Paris are devastating. It is desperately sad that many people have been killed and injured and that so many others will feel terrified and fearful for a long time to come.

It is even more sad that so many more people are suffering and dying in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and in the neighbouring countries to which their citizens are fleeing. And it is deeply worrying that significant numbers of people have become so damaged that they would perpetrate these atrocities.

Oil has had a big part to play in this.  Many oil-rich countries have autocratic rule and many of their citizens and foreign workers are exploited so that small elites can live lavish lifestyles. Huge wealth disparities and human rights abuses make perfect breeding grounds for the sorts of angers and resentments that lead to people choosing terrorism as a weapon. And western dependence on this oil has meant that western governments have tolerated and sometimes colluded with these oppressive governments, thus feeding the conditions that can breed terrorism and make the West the natural target of much of their rage. It is no accident ISIS has sprung up in two oil-rich countries, one with an autocratic government the other with a failing government propped up by the West.

An effective price on carbon, such as  Carbon Fee and Dividend proposed by CCL would quickly reduce demand for oil and push these oil-producing countries to diversify their economies and enable them to become much less subject to the geopolitical manoeuvrings of major governments and corporations.

This transition would be difficult for these countries but probably less so than the chaos that will almost certainly occur without predictable and transparent carbon pricing. An effective carbon price would likely bring significant reductions in the wealth disparities and oppressive governance that are feeding the raw emotion in people who may turn to terrorism.

There are so many possible benefits that would flow from an effective price on carbon. A more peaceful world free of the social and economic distortions caused by oil-wealth may well be one of them!

Rod Mitchell – CCL Australia National Coordinator