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Chelsea Green Blog

Fixing the climate without soaking the middle class

Author Peter Barnes (Climate Solutions) has a new article circulating, and a new website promoting his inventive Cap and Dividend program as a way to ensure that everyone benefits dfrom either a carbon tax, or an auction of carbon emission permits.

As Barnes notes,

There’s also an attractive premise behind cap and dividend: the atmosphere is a commons that belongs to everyone. Those who pollute the commons should pay to do so. And the income should go to the commons’ owners, one person, one share.

If I were a Presidential candidate, I’d latch on to cap and dividend in a flash. After all, what’s not to like? With cap and dividend, we’d limit carbon emissions, spur private investment in clean energy, create jobs, and send money to everybody. Who wouldn’t vote for that?

Barnes also reminds us of this very important fact:

Fighting climate change is going to cost all of us money. That’s because the price of dumping carbon into the atmosphere must, necessarily, rise. Whether the price rise is prompted by a tax or a cap makes no difference — we will all pay more.

Impact of Emissions Reduction on Families

As you can see from this chart, current “solutions” would hit lower income families the hardest, which adds to the appeal of the cap and dividend proposal, as it’s progressive in its economic impact. Even though higher energy prices hit the poor the hardest, the poor actually gain when dividends are added in, Barnes adds.

To read more of Barnes’ argument, click here.


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