The Best Way to Spend 60 Seconds Fighting Climate Change

IMO the most important thing we can do to address Climate Change at the moment is to convince the federal government to put a price on carbon emissions, as the governments of other developed countries have already done or are doing.

The simplest, best way to do it is to tax fossil fuels in proportion to the carbon they create, and then distribute the proceeds back to citizens in the form of tax-breaks or dividend checks (to protect citizens’ pocket-books).

The tax will leverage the potent power of our economy to innovate – it’ll respond quickly and forcefully if the tax is sufficiently high.

There’s currently a White House petition to create just such a tax, and it’s imperative that it gets signatures.

Please click through and sign here.

If you sign this thing I’ll love you more than I love you already. More than Cher loved Sonny, more than Stimpy loved Ren, more than Luke loved Leia before he found out she was his sister. Serious love.

I’ll love you even more if you repost this on your FB page and more generally spread it around to every last person you know. Imagine me kissing you repeatedly on the cheeks until they’re raw and giving you expert back-rubs. Or sharing a cold brewski with you in your man-cave, for the less touchy-feely among you.

I’ve had too much coffee. Just go sign.

From the Sea

Posted October 03, 2011 in Uncategorizable | 4 Comments on The Best Way to Spend 60 Seconds Fighting Climate Change

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  1. Matt H says:

    I am confused by the economics behind this. I get the theory part behind the tax; price barriers to carbon creation will push consumers to ‘greener’ purchases that might otherwise be priced out of their buying range.

    But, where is the tax supposed to be in the supply chain? Are we taxing the producers (drillers, refiners, transport, end sellers?) or the consumers via a sales tax? Taxing at the point of purchase makes the most sense at first glance, but it would probably be the most complex. How would I determine a carbon-based tax on, say a CFL that comes in a plastic package? Complicated, right? So, a tax at the extraction point probably makes the most sense in terms of economic simplicity; raise the prices as far up in the supply chain as possible and let them simply trickle down through economy. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the consumer will feel the increase, as there are a lot of points in the economic chain where some of that tax could be absorbed. Unlikely, but possible.

    And most importantly, what’s the point of just giving the money back to consumers. If the idea is redistribution of corporate profits, let’s call it that and find a simpler way to do it. If the idea is to drive innovation, raising prices and then giving a rebate (less the cost of collection and distribution) won’t do it – you’re lessening the burden of the increased prices and compromising the purpose of the increase. It may create more federal government jobs, but – again – if that’s the intent let’s find a more efficient way to do it.

    If you really want to drive innovation, you need to determine what the barriers are on both sides (cost of existing, mature systems; cost of newer, less mature systems; distribution of existing subsidies in the form of tax code and availability of startup capital, etc) and start to chip away at them with targeted tax code changes. Necessity may be the mother of innovation, but shareholder commitments create real necessities.

  2. Nick Bentley says:

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the questions. If you don’t mind, I’m not going to discuss the points you raise in the comments here, because my next post is going to cover this subject in depth. I’m giving a presentation about it in a couple of days (to >100 people!), and then I’ll write the post here in the next week or two. I will say that your comments are on-the-head – the questions you raise are the ones that the economists who build these systems spend much of their time on.

  3. Nick Bentley says:

    Also, I should mention that there’s something I haven’t explained about how the dividends work that will make the rationale for them clear. That’s coming in the next post as well.

  4. Matt H says:

    Awesome – I’m looking forward to it. And pardon me for sounding a little more critical than I intended. The goal is noble, just trying to work out the details.

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