来源：网络 发布时间：2014-09-03 作者：上外口译培训
Section 2 第二篇
Senator Barbara Boxer (D) of California announced this month she intends to move ahead with legislation designed to lower the emission of greenhouse gases that are linked by many scientists to climate change. But the approach she’s taking is flawed, and the current financial crisis can help us understand why.
The centerpiece of this approach is the creation of a market for trading carbon emission credits. These credits would be either distributed free of charge or auctioned to major emitters of greenhouse gases. The firms could then buy and sell permits under federally mandated emissions caps. If a company is able to cut emissions, it can sell excess credits for a profit. If it needs to emit more, it can buy permits on the market from other firnls.
“Cap and trade,” as it is called, is advocated by several policymakers, industry leaders, and activists who want to fight global warming. But it’s based on the trade of highly volatile financial instruments: risky at best. The better approach to climate change? A direct tax placed on emissions of greenhouse gases. The tax would create a market price for carbon emissions and lead to emissions reductions or new technologies that cut greenhouse gases. This is an approach favored by many economists as the financially sensible way to go. And it is getting a closer look by some industry professionals and lawmakers.
At first blush, it might seem crazy to advocate a tax increase during a major recession. But there are several virtues of a tax on carbon emissions relative to a cap-and-trade program. For starters, the country already has a mechanism in place to deal with taxes. Tax collection is something the government has abundant experience with. A carbon trading scheme, on the other hand, requires the creation of elaborate new markets, institutions, and regulations to oversee and enforce it.
Another relative advantage of the tax is its flexibility. It is easier to adjust the tax to adapt to changing economic, scientific, or other circumstances. If the tax is too low to be effective, it can be raised easily. If it is too burdensome it can be relaxed temporarily. In contrast, a cap-and-trade program creates emissions permits that provide substantial economic value to firms and industries. These assets limit the program’s flexibility once under way, since market actors then have an interest in maintaining the status quo to preserve the value of the assets. What’s more, they can be a recipe for trouble. As my American Enterprise Institute colleagues Ken Green, Steve Hayward, and Kevin Hassett pointed out two years ago, “sudden changes in economic conditions could lead to significant price volatility in a cap-and-trade program that would be less likely under a carbon-tax regime.”
Recent experience bears this out. Europe has in place a cap-and-trade program that today looks a little like the American mortgage-backed securities market—it’s a total mess. The price of carbon recently fell—plummeting from over $30 to around $12 per ton—as European firms unloaded their permits on the market in an effort to shore up deteriorating balance sheets during the credit crunch. It is this shaky experience with cap-and-trade that might explain an unlikely advocate of a carbon tax. Earlier this year, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson pointed in a speech to the problems with Europe’s cap-and-trade program—such as the program’s volatility and lack of transparency—as reasons he prefers a carbon tax.
That said, new taxes are a tough sell in Washington, which helps explain the current preference for a cap-and-trade scheme. Despite this, there are ways to make a carbon tax more politically appealing. The first is to insist that it be “revenue neutral.” This means that any revenues collected from the tax are used to reduce taxes elsewhere, such as payroll taxes.
The advantage of this approach is that it places a burden on something that is believed by many to be undesirable (greenhouse-gas emissions) while relieving a burden on something that is desirable (work). Another selling point is that the tax can justify the removal of an assortment of burdensome and costly regulations such as CAFE standards for car. These regulations become largely redundant in an era of carbon taxes.
But it may be that a carbon tax doesn’t need an elaborate sales pitch today when the alternative is trading carbon permits. The nation’s recent experience with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the mortgage-backed securities market should prompt Congress to think twice when a member proposes the creation of a highly politicized market for innovative financial instruments, no matter how well intentioned the program may be.
6. The author introduces Senator Barbara Boxer in the passage because she ________.
(A) has made suggestions to ease the current financial crisis
(B) is a pioneer in the reduction of greenhouse gases emission
(C) is well-known for her proposal on legislation reform
(D) plans to propose the legislation of cap-and-trade program
7. Which of the following CANNOT be true about the carbon emission credits system?
(A) The use of carbon credits would show clearly emitters’ efforts in carbon cutting.
(B) The credits might be distributed free or auctioned to the emitters.
(C) The price of carbon credits could fluctuate with changing economic conditions.
(D) The credits can be bought and sold between emitters for profits.
8. According to the passage, the cap-and-trade program ________.
(A) will be much more useful in fighting global warming
(B) will not be as effective as a tax on carbon emissions
(C) is being examined by industry professionals and lawmakers
(D) is supported by many policymakers, industry leaders and activists
9. The expression “to shore up” in the sentence “as European firms unloaded their permits on the market in an effort to shore up deteriorating balance sheets during the credit crunch”(para. 6) can best paraphrased as ________.
(A) to eliminate (B) to revise and regulate
(C) to give support to (D) to correct and restructure
10. In the last paragraph, the author mentions Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the mortgage-backed securities to tell the Congress that ________.
(A) the experience with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the mortgage-backed securities will be useful for the creation of a highly politicized market
(B) the lessons from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the mortgage-backed securities should not be neglected
(C) the argument over cap-and-trade program and direct tax on carbon emissions should be stopped
(D) the legislation for a cap-and-trade scheme will prove to be the solution to greenhouse gases emission
【关键词】tackling climate change, direct tax vs. cap-and-trade program
【文章出处】 基督教箴言报时评，专栏作家Nick Schulz发表于2009年2月13日。
federally mandated emissions caps 联邦规定的碳排放限额
excess credits 这里表示多余的、用不完的碳排放权
volatile financial instruments 高风险的金融工具，volatile本意“不稳定的”
financially sensible 在财政上明智的、可行的
elaborate 精细的 adj.
status quo 现状，现代英语中保留的拉丁语用法
price volatility 价格波动
shore up 支撑
balance sheet 资产负债表
tough sell 这里表示很难让人接受，很难实行
revenue neutral 这里表示税收总额保持不变，比如碳排放税收增加，则相应调低所得税等税种税赋
CAFE 这里指Corporate Average Fuel Economy公司平均燃油经济性指标
Fannie Mae 房利美，“联邦国民住房贷款协会”
Freddie Mac 房地美，“联邦住房抵押贷款公司”
mortgage-backed securities 住房抵押贷款证券 MBS