At news conference in Paris on Tuesday, President Obama said “the most elegant way” to reduce carbon emissions is “to put a price on it.”

He was responding to a reporter who asked Obama, “I wonder if you see any political path back home toward putting a price on carbon?”

“I have long believed that the most elegant way to drive innovation and to reduce carbon emissions is to put a price on it. This is a classic market failure,” Obama replied.

“If you open up an Econ 101 textbook, it will say the market’s very good about determining prices and allocating capital towards its most productive use, except there’s certain externalities, there’s certain things that the market just doesn’t count, it doesn’t price, at least not on its own. Clean air is an example; clean water — or the converse, dirty water, dirty air.

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