Lest our interest in the deep wisdom of the foggy past keep us from clearly seeing and addressing the greatest challenge of our present (and future), let me repeat this suggestion that is taking off in the U.S.: It’s going to take a solid price against fossil carbon to allow free markets begin to work for us rather than against us to tamp down global heating due to excess greenhouse effect. And putting all of that money straight back into the pockets of citizens will move us faster toward greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change adaptation than can any other means.
The numbers bear out; with just around 0.06% of the GDP redirected into a carbon fee and rebate to the people, overall GDP goes up forever while costs of climate change are minimized. When it comes to climate change, as you’ll find in the link to the US National Climate Assessment released last week, the difference between “minimized costs’ and ‘usual costs’ is already almost too big to begin to imagine. The online presentation is highly recommended. It’s not political or skewed to a special audience. And it effectively communicates what the U.S. and the world is facing right now.
I dream of the big energy companies seeing the light before everyone else does and stepping up to administer a climate emergency “fee and dividend” program on behalf of the world’s governments to begin charging and rebating a significant and rising fee on fossil carbon at first domestic point of sale in every nation – at the mine, wellhead or port of entry! I think this could be done painlessly enough for the consumer by raising the fee/dividend amount in concert with market-driven price increases…each penny for big oil would mean another penny for the consumers too. Gasoline would go up in price twice as fast as it does now, but half that increase would go right back into the wallet on a per-capita, perhaps monthly or some faster basis. Not a dime of these funds would be kept by the energy companies who volunteer to collect them. Not a dime would get mucked up at the halls of Congress or the IRS. The whole rising fee would go back to the people who need it…to buy newer, more efficient cars, houses and appliances, to cope with increasing allergies and diseases, to minimize their exposure to ever-increasing costs of fossil fuels and their unfunded social costs. This is a good idea. It will work. Let’s get to it!