CCL: Yellow Vest protesters have it right on carbon taxes – give the money back to the people!

  • Published on December 12th, 2018

Public resistance to fossil fuel price hikes, like that seen recently in France, can be overcome by returning revenue to households, Citizens’ Climate Lobby said Wednesday at the U.N. climate change conference in Katowice, Poland. “People worry about worsening climate impact costs, but they are also genuinely concerned about the economic impact carbon pricing will have on their lives,” Joe Robertson, CCL’s Global Strategy Director, said at press event during COP24. “We can allay these fears by taking the revenue from carbon fees and allocating it to the people.”

yellow vest protesters have it right on carbon taxes

By Steve Valk
Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation to place a fee on carbon and return all revenue to households in the form of a monthly dividend. Under the policy outlined in their bill, known as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 7173), a majority of families, particularly low- and middle-income, will receive more money from the “carbon dividend” than they would pay in increased costs associated with the fee. The plan provides the U.S. with the most cost-effective possible path for investment, economic development, and transition to a future free of carbon pollution.

“The sponsors of this bill intend to reintroduce it in the next Congress,” said Robertson. “We think it can serve as a model for other nations to implement carbon pricing in a way that is good for their people and good for their economies.”

Starting at $15 per ton of carbon dioxide and increasing $10 per ton each year, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act will push the price of carbon to $100 per ton within a decade. Such an aggressive price will achieve at least 40% emissions reductions within 12 years. The bill targets 90% reductions by mid century.

On Tuesday during the Special Event to review the IPCC Special Report findings, a hushed audience heard that, as the science shows, if we do not aggressively reduce emissions, we are on track to irreversible losses of vital natural systems. The United States has spent as much in disaster management since January 2017 as in the three decades from 1980 to 2010. Insurers are seeing unsustainable losses now, and climate destabilization is getting worse.

“To not effectively reduce carbon pollution would be dangerously unaffordable,” said Robertson. “Those nations that act the fastest will be leaders in the emerging climate-smart economy; those that act too late or not at all will sacrifice vast amounts of future wealth to their indecision and delay.”

Thousands of meetings between citizens and lawmakers have shown that all sides want better alignment of local experience, national policy design, and mainstream finance. The Resilience Intel initiative is a response to that demand, and is working to map the external returns on investment (XROI) that define the overall economy-shaping value of investments, institutions, and policies.

Resilience Intel guidance to the G20 and to negotiators at the COP24 includes carbon dividends as one of the levers for securing future prosperity.

Representatives from many nations attending the COP24 in Poland arrived with the expectation that the United States would offer little or no help in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, along with the growing alliance of cities, states and businesses that are committing to act on climate, we can now point to this historic bipartisan breakthrough—the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Hope has been rekindled that legislation to price carbon can make its way through the next Congress, one that is more open to dealing with the climate crisis than any in the past 10 years.

Not only can this bipartisan legislation make the U.S. a world leader in emissions reductions and low-carbon innovation; it can make the whole economy an engine to drive that change.

“In other words,” said Robertson, “don’t count America out when it comes to solving climate change.”


About the Author

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-profit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Our consistently respectful, nonpartisan approach to climate education is designed to create a broad, sustainable foundation for climate action across all geographic regions and political inclinations. By building upon shared values rather than partisan divides, and empowering our supporters to work in keeping with the concerns of their local communities, we work towards the adoption of fair, effective, and sustainable climate change solutions. In order to generate the political will necessary for passage of our Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal we train and support volunteers to build relationships with elected officials, the media and their local community.