Revkin speculates that Barnes' proposal is a way to break the deadlock stopping climate change legislation. I think he may be right. Tax emissions. (Or cap them and auction permits.) Refund the revenue to everybody. It has the following political advantages: It is simple and easy to understand. It puts a price on emissions without really penalizing anybody. It is a no-hair-shirt solution. This last point is worth emphasizing. It does not punish consumers, because the increased prices they pay are made up for by the dividend check. It does not really punish fossil fuel companies, because the tax they pay gets passed along to customers who have new money to pay those increased prices. Of course, fossil fuel companies do lose, as people use less of their product, but that is not punishment; it is an inevitable result of their selling a product whose side effects can no longer be tolerated. Since it will take time to phase out fossil fuels, oil and coal companies are free to use the time tax-and-dividend gives them to make the transition to other businesses, perhaps by expanding the investments they have already made in wind and solar. I'm going to post soon on why I think the people who think tax-and-dividend (or any mechanism depending on price) can be the sole, or even main, solution are wrong. Price is insufficient by itself; public investment and rule-based regulation have to remain the primary solutions. But price is not avoidable as part of the solution.
Another sharp new piece from the American News Project:
Dedicated to the coal and nuclear industries: Lorrie Morgan's What Part of No Don't You Understand? Dedicated to Scott McClellan: Randy Travis' Pray for the Fish:
OK, so the long-dead B-L-W bill got propped up and dragged around for a few days. (Tagline: B-L-W may be dead, but it's the life of the party!) But I think the debate was quite useful for two reasons: The opponents of (even modest) action played and overplayed their cards. Now we know that the health and well-being of future generations is of no interest in them. Now we know what their primary arguments will be. This is the opportunity for progressives and moderates and hopefully President Obama to design a better messaging strategy -- and to get pro cap-and-trade businesses to weigh in. The many flaws in the bill (other than the fact it wouldn't actually save the climate) were exposed: not enough money returned to taxpayers, too much money given away to too many groups, too complicated, your flaw here -- I'd very much like to hear your ideas for how the bill could be simplified and improved. I will be offering my recommendations for what a better bill would look like later this month. Clearly, the bill should be designed to achieve more reductions and to be easier to explain and defend. After all, the original Weekend at Bernie's was kind of fun and made money. But did anybody actually see (and enjoy) Weekend at Bernie's 2? We don't want a lame remake next year.
Peter Barnes' proposal is popping up everywhere these days, most recently in U.S. News and World Report. The idea is simple: Put a cap on emissions, and divide that cap into permits. Sell those permits upstream -- mostly to just a few hundred fossil fuel producers and importers. They in turn will pass the cost of those permits on to consumers. Divide the revenue from the auctions among consumers, which makes up for the higher prices. Read the article for details. Update: "Rebate" changed to "Refund" as GreyFlcn suggested.
“There has occasionally been voiced the misimpression that a future administration will take a significantly different attitude towards climate than this administration.” – deputy national security adviser Dan Price
On the Drudge Report homepage right now: Gotta love those scare quotes.
The idea behind offsets is that you pay someone else to reduce emissions on your behalf when they can make the reductions more cheaply than you can. The leading offset method use to fight climate chaos is the Clean Development Mechanism. This is an extremely controversial topic, with many (including me) contending it does not work. The BBC has an excellent radio broadcast covering both sides of the controversy. The broadcaster concludes that offsets don't make sense. But he gives leading intelligent pro-CDM experts plenty of time to make their case. It is an example of a program that is, while not the least bit objective, still being fair.
I suppose as an enviro-blogger I’m supposed to have something insightful to say about the death of the Lieberman-Warner bill. Yet I find myself strangely apathetic. So much buildup, so much debate, and then … …
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