The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, "hmm.... that's funny...." Isaac Asimov

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hope for cutting carbon emissions

I am feeling more optimistic about the chances of slowing and eventually halting emissions of carbon dioxide than I have for a long time.  This is because of an idea and an organization.  The idea is a revenue-neutral carbon tax.  The organization is Citizens Climate Lobby. 

A carbon tax makes huge sense.  See my previous post, and for more.  Making a carbon tax revenue neutral means many in Congress who are opposed in principle to new taxes could still vote for it.

Citizens Climate Lobby is a rapidly-growing grass-roots organization whose goal is to promote legislation that puts a fee on carbon based fuels and returns the revenue to households.  The Lobby held its annual meeting June 23-25, 2013, in Washington DC.  (See picture above.)  I was privileged to attend.  On the 25th and later that week, Lobby members met with about 400 members of Congress or their staffs.  In these meetings, the Lobby pushed for legislation that would:

·         Tax carbon-based fuels upstream, at the first point of sale (well, mine, or port of entry).

·         Start the tax at $15 per ton of fossil CO2 emitted, and increase it by $10 per ton per year so that it reaches at least $100 per ton of CO2 within ten years, making renewable energy less expensive than fossil fuel.

·         Protect American households from increased energy costs associated with the carbon tax by returning the revenue to them.

·         Protect American businesses with border adjustment tariffs that also encourage other nations to adopt equivalent carbon pricing.

Under this plan, a majority of households would break even or get more money back than they paid in carbon tax, protecting the poor and middle class.  A predictably increasing carbon price would send a clear market signal, unleashing development of a clean-energy economy.   

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