Cap and trade may seem like the big offer on the emission reductions table at the moment -- one mention of alternatives like a straight carbon tax send many people (the average American in particular) into apoplectic fits -- but Annie "The Story of Stuff" Leonard wants you to take a closer look.There are so many troubling details in how cap and trade is currently proposed -- free permit giveaways to polluters, massive potential for bogus offsetting projects, the ever-present potential of distracting us from making real changes -- that we really need to consider other options.
How About a Fee-and-Dividend Approach?
One option which I find particular attractive, as it gets around much of the stigma around a carbon tax, is one proposed by climatologist James Hansen. It's called a fee-and-dividend approach -- not cap-and-dividend, Hansen corrected me when I described it as such -- and could be implemented more quickly than cap and trade, as well as being less complex. Hansen described it to me via email:
The fee is collected at the mine or port of entry -- no fossil fuel escapes the fee. The money collected is given 100% to the public via equal dividends to all legal residents or a payroll tax deduction (50% dividend and 50% for payroll tax deduction may be a good division to start). The important point is that 100% of the money goes to the public. With cap-and-trade Congress is giving away the money to its favorite special interests, especially such boondoggles as "clean coal".
You have to remember that cap-and-trade has a lot to do with the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington. Cap-and-trade is often called Goldman Sachs cap-and-trade, because they and the other Wall Street trading houses will be making hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more -- their secretive trading units are very talented. Where do you think the money will come from for their profits -- the feds printing money? No, it will come, you guessed it, from John Q. Public through increased energy prices.
Goldman Sachs does not make one thin dime from fee-and-dividend -- there is no role for them.
More info: The Story of Cap and Trade
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