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A new peer-reviewed paper cuts against the grain by concluding that the most effective carbon tax structure should start high and decline over time.

Why it matters: It breaks with carbon tax bills floating around Congress and other proposals that begin modestly and then escalate.

What they found: The paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal offers several reasons for flipping the script.

  • Uncertainty around just how bad damage from climate change could be makes strong near-term steps vital.
  • The high costs of delaying action.
  • Falling costs of cutting emissions over time as technology improves.

The big picture: The paper's modeling suggests an optimal price would begin at well over $100-per-ton (or even much higher), rise for a few years, and then fall.

"[P]roperly taking climate uncertainty into account leads to the conclusion that we need to take stronger action today to give us breathing room in the event that the planet turns out to be more fragile than current models predict."
— Kent Daniel, lead author and professor at Columbia Business School, per statement

Where it stands: It's very different than what's out there now.

  • The nonprofit Climate Leadership Council, which includes Big Oil backers, is circulating a plan that starts at $40-per-ton of CO2 and rises annually.
  • A Columbia University energy think tank has a helpful tally of Capitol Hill plans that all start with far lower CO2 prices than the PNAS paper suggests.

But, but, but: "Treat carbon in the atmosphere like an asset (with negative payoffs) and apply Financial Economics 101, and its price appears to jump by quite a bit over typically modeled prices," PNAS co-author Gernot Wagner tells me.

Go deeper: Carbon tax campaign unveils new details and backers

Go deeper

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The two sides of America's coronavirus response

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

America's bungled political and social response to the coronavirus exists side-by-side with a record-breaking push to create a vaccine with U.S. companies and scientists at the center.

Why it matters: America's two-sided response serves as an X-ray of the country itself — still capable of world-beating feats at the high end, but increasingly struggling with what should be the simple business of governing itself.

Joe Biden introduces Kamala Harris in first joint appearance

Joe Biden formally introduced Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on Wednesday, telling a socially-distanced gymnasium in Wilmington, Del.: "I have no doubt that I picked the right person to join me as the next vice president of the United States of America."

Why it matters: Harris is a historic pick for vice president, becoming the first Black woman and first South Asian woman to be named to a major-party U.S. presidential ticket. "Kamala knows how to govern," Biden said. "She knows how to make the hard calls. She is ready to do this job on day one."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 20,439,274 — Total deaths: 744,941— Total recoveries: 12,632,604Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 5,180,226 — Total deaths: 165,510 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says Mnuchin called her, White House is "not budging" on stimulus position.
  4. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits.
  5. Public health: America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.
  6. Education: New Jersey governor allows schools to reopenGallup: America's confidence in public school system jumps to highest level since 2004.