Analysis: Strong Carbon Cap Would Cut Iran’s Petrodollars By Over $100 Million A Day

A strong cap on carbon would significantly cut the flow of petrodollars to Iran’s hostile regime, a ThinkProgress analysis shows. The economic and political strength of Iran’s dictatorship is a threat to the national security of the United States and the world, and its nuclear ambitions threaten to destabilize the Middle East. Yesterday, diplomats from “six world powers have met for the first time to discuss imposing new sanctions on Iran for its failure to suspend work on its controversial nuclear program,” but negotiators have not yet figured how to achieve President Barack Obama’s goal of being “consistent and steady in applying international pressure.”

Iran, “which holds the world’s second-biggest oil and gas reserves and supplies about 4.5 percent of the world’s oil production,” uses its oil power “as a strategic asset.” One mechanism to control the flow of petrodollars to Iran — whose oil production is worth $120 billion a year at current prices — is for the United States to control its appetite for oil. ThinkProgress has found that a carbon cap that reduces global warming pollution by 80 percent by 2050 would mean Iran would lose approximately $1.8 trillion worth of oil revenues over the next forty years — over $100 million a day:

The United States is by far the world’s biggest consumer of oil, accounting for 25 percent of world production. Our demand is more than the four next biggest consumers — China, Japan, India, and Russia — combined, despite having only 11% of their population. Unilateral action by the United States to reduce oil consumption has a profound effect on the world market, and is the first step towards global climate policy that builds a zero-carbon economy.

If the world moves away from oil dependence, Iran’s regime will no longer be able to rely on petrodollars to stay afloat. Other unfriendly regimes propped up by carbon-fuel money, such as Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, will also feel the pinch, improving our national security and making it less likely our armed services will fight battles amid the oil fields. For that to happen, the United States must pass comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation as fast as possible, the stronger the better.