Boston Globe: CCL featured in Green Blog
The following article, generated by CCL's Gary Rucinski, was published in the Boston Globe's Green Blog on March 27, 2011.
A carbon tax idea explained
Although climate legislation is stalled in Congress, there remains no shortage of ideas to put a price on carbon to help reduce the amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere and turn the nation to cleaner fuels. I recently met with Citizens Climate Lobby that calls for a tax on carbon. Here are some responses to questions I posed to them.
What is Citizens Climate Lobby and what is your mission?
Citizens Climate Lobby is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to creating the political will for legislative solutions that will lead to a stable and sustainable climate. We are building the political will needed to achieve our agenda by empowering members to have breakthroughs in their exercise of personal and political power.
What is carbon fee and dividend?
It is a policy option that will promote a transition to a clean energy economy by imposing a steadily increasing fee on fossil fuels at the coal mine, oil or gas well, or (for imports from countries without a similar fee) port of entry. The policy returns one hundred percent of collected proceeds to all households in the form of monthly dividend checks to mitigate the impact of energy cost increases caused by the fee.
Why do you support this as opposed to carbon cap and trade?
A fee is a simple and transparent mechanism that cannot be manipulated in ways a cap might be. It will put a price on carbon without the complexities of emissions monitoring, auditing, certifying renewable energy credits, and carbon trading. In addition, international harmonization should be a priority for U.S. climate policy: China will
not agree to a cap, and corruption and the inability to implement sophisticated compliance mechanisms would severely compromise the integrity of cap and trade in some developing countries.
You recently started a volunteer arm of CCL in Boston. What do you hope to accomplish here?
The Boston arm of CCL hopes to make the citizens of Massachusetts and their elected representatives form supporters of legislative solutions that will lead to a stable and sustainable climate. Boston group members will accomplish this by lobbying their senators and congressmen on behalf of climate legislation. They will engage and educate the public and the media to get others to speak out about the importance and the benefits of passing climate and energy legislation.
What are biggest challenges of fee and dividend?
The fossil fuel lobby is very well funded and will fight anything that will accelerate the transformation of the U.S. to a clean energy economy. Carbon cap and trade would represent significant new revenue opportunities for the financial industry, and they will fight to keep it alive. Some Republicans will balk at taking any action that appears to be in response to concerns about climate change. It will be viewed by some as a new tax.
How were you founded and why?
Our founder, Marshall Saunders, spent 20 years establishing micro-credit loans in third world countries. Becoming alarmed that climate change represented a threat far greater than poverty to low-lying countries like Bangladesh and elsewhere, he established CCL to put in place approaches and methodologies that can create the best possible conditions for adoption of effective climate and energy policies.