Carbon fee and dividend

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Climate Income, or Carbon Fee and Dividend, explained.png
A coal power plant in Germany. Fee and dividend will make fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – less competitive as a fuel than other options.

A carbon fee and dividend or climate income is a proposed system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address global warming. The system imposes a fee on the sale of fossil fuels, and subsequently distributes the revenue of this fee over the entire population, as a monthly income or regular payment.

Designed to maintain or improve economic vitality while speeding the transition to a sustainable energy economy, carbon fee and dividend has been proposed as an alternative to emission reduction mechanisms such as complex regulatory approaches, cap and trade or a straightforward carbon tax. While there is general agreement among scientists[1][2] and economists[3][4][5][6][7] on the need for a carbon tax, economists are generally neutral on specific uses for the revenue, though there tends to be more support than opposition for returning the revenue as a dividend to taxpayers.[8]


Advantages[edit]

A climate income has several notable advantages over other emission reduction mechanisms:

  • Social justice and acceptability. While there is broad scientific consensus that a carbon tax is the most powerful way to reduce emissions, such a tax necessarily increases prices and the cost of living. By handing out the revenue of this tax as a universal climate income, the price rise is largely compensated. It has been calculated that in total, low and middle incomes would go up under a system of climate income.
  • Market based and cross-sector. Unlike complex regulatory approaches, a fossil fuel fee allows the market forces to reduce emissions in the most efficient and cost effective way.[9]
  • Cross-sector. There is a broad range of sources of carbon emissions. Regulatory approaches often address different emission sectors individually. A universal fossil fuel fee would address all these sectors at once. Through a universal price on CO2-equivalent emissions, the fee can cover other greenhouse gases (such as methane and nitrous oxide) or emission sectors (industry, agriculture) as well.
  • Compatible. The mechanism is compatible with other measures and regulations imposed by the government, such as investments in education, research and infrastructure.
  • Revenue neutral. A climate income would not increase the budget of the government, or utilise the imposed carbon fee as a means to balance the government deficit.[10]

Structure[edit]

The basic structure of carbon fee and dividend is as follows:[11]

  1. A fee is levied on fuels at their point of origin into the economy, such as the well, mine, or port of entry. The fee is based upon the carbon content of a given fuel, with a commonly-proposed starting point being $10–$16 per ton of carbon that would be emitted once the fuel is burned.[9][12]
  2. The fee is progressively increased, providing a steady, predictable price signal and incentivizing early transition to low-carbon energy sources and products.
  3. A border tax adjustment is levied on imports from nations that lack their own equivalent fee on carbon. For example, if the United States legislated a carbon fee-and-dividend system, China would face the choice of paying carbon fees to the United States or creating its own internal carbon pricing system. This would leverage American economic power to incentivize carbon pricing around the world.
  4. Some or all of the fee is returned to households as an energy dividend. Returning 100% of net fees results in a revenue-neutral carbon fee-and-dividend system; this revenue neutrality often appeals to conservatives, such as former Secretary of State George Shultz,[10] who want to reduce emissions without increasing the size and funding of the federal government.

In order to maximize effectiveness, the amount of the fee would be regulated based on the scientific assessments from both economic and climate science in order to balance the size and speed of fee progression.

Analysis[edit]

Energy Modeling Forum study 2012[edit]

In late-2012 the Energy Modeling Forum (EMF), coordinated by Stanford University, released its EMF 29 study titled "The role of border carbon adjustment in unilateral climate policy".[13][14][15] It is well understood that unilateral climate policy can lead to emissions leakage. As one example, trade-exposed emissions-intensive industries may simply relocate to regions with laxer climate protection. A border carbon adjustment (BCA) program can help counter this and related effects. Under such a policy, tariffs are levied on the carbon embodied in imported goods from unregulated trading partners while the original climate protection payments for exported goods are rebated.[13] The study finds that the BCA programs evaluated:[15]

In light of these findings, the study recommends care when designing and implementing BCA programs.[15] Moreover, the regressive impact of shifting part of the abatement burden southward conflicts with the UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, which explicitly acknowledges that developing countries have less ability to shoulder climate protection measures.[13]

Regional Economic Models study 2014[edit]

A 2014 economic impact analysis by Regional Economic Models, Incorporated (REMI) concluded that a carbon fee that began at $10 per ton and increased by $10 per year, with all net revenue returned to households as an energy dividend, would carry substantial environmental, health, and economic benefits:[16][17]

  • CO
    2
    emissions in the United States would decrease to 50% of 1990 levels in the first 20 years.
  • Over the same timespan, reductions in airborne pollution that accompanies CO
    2
    emissions would result in 230,000 fewer premature deaths.
  • Regular dividend payments would stimulate the U.S. economy, leading to the creation of 2.8 million jobs over baseline during the program's first two decades.
  • The stimulative effect was also found to positively affect national GDP, adding $70–85 billion per year for a cumulative 20-year increase of $1.375 trillion over baseline (the approximate equivalent of adding an additional year of growth during that span).

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis study 2016[edit]

A 2016 working paper from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) looked more narrowly at the impact of carbon fee and dividend on American households during the first year.[18] Due to the shorter window analyzed (which did not allow for considerations of changes to personal energy use under the policy) the paper found a smaller percentage of households benefiting from carbon fee and dividend than the REMI report summarized above (53% versus approximately two-thirds in the REMI report). It also found that an additional 19% of households suffered a loss of less than 0.2% of annual income, an amount that might be experienced as effectively "breaking even" by households in the upper income quintiles most likely affected.

Implementation[edit]

The British Columbia carbon tax could be considered a "fee and dividend", although there are some differences.[19] Rather than entirely or mostly being returned as a dividend to households, 73% of the carbon tax is used to reduce corporate and small business taxes. Unlike most governments, British Columbia's electricity portfolio largely consists of hydroelectric power and their energy costs, even with the tax, are lower than most countries.[20][21]

Country Region Year started Price of CO2 Per year progression
Canada British Columbia 2008[22] $10 per ton $5 per year
Switzerland 2008 96 CHF per ton CO
2
in 2018[23]
12 CHF in 2008
24 CHF in 2009
36 CHF in 2010
60 CHF in 2014
84 CHF in 2016

Political support[edit]

United States[edit]

Carbon fee and dividend is the preferred climate solution of Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL).[24] Citizens' Climate Lobby argues that a fee-and-dividend policy will be easier to adopt and adjust than relatively complicated cap-and-trade or regulatory approaches, enabling a smooth, economically-positive transition to a low-carbon energy economy.[25] James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies has frequently promoted awareness of carbon fee and dividend through his writings [26][27] and frequent public appearances, as well as his position at Columbia University.[28]

Inspired by the market-friendly structure of carbon fee and dividend, Republican Congressman Bob Inglis introduced H.R. 2380 (the 'Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act of 2009')[29][30] in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 13, 2009. Congressman Inglis considers carbon fee and dividend to be a solution with great potential appeal for conservatives;[31] concerned about energy infrastructure as an issue of national security, he supports Fee and Dividend as the a reliable means of reducing dependence on foreign oil.[32]

Another bill partly inspired by the Fee and Dividend structure was introduced by Democratic Congressman John B. Larson on July 16, 2015.[33] H.R. 3104, or the “America’s Energy Security Trust Fund Act of 2015" includes a steadily rising price on carbon but uses some revenue for job retraining, and returns the remainder of revenue via a payroll tax cut rather than direct dividend payments.

On September 1, 2016 the California Assembly Joint Resolution 43, "Williams. Greenhouse gases: climate change", was filed, having passed both houses.[34] The measure urges the United States Congress to enact a tax on carbon-based fossil fuels. The proposal is revenue-neutral, with all money collected going to the bottom 2/3 of American households. It may have difficulty passing in Congress because it would be considered a tax, but if households were to receive an equal share in the form of a dividend then the legislation should properly class as a carbon fee. Thus California's recommendation for national legislation is perhaps close to being acceptable to Congress.

A bipartisan carbon fee and dividend bill, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, was reintroduced in the first session of the 116th Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 24, 2019.[35] The lead sponsor is Democrat Ted Deutch and it is cosponsored by Republican Francis Rooney.

Several 2020 presidential candidates have publicly shared their support of the fee and dividend policy, including Bernie Sanders[36], Pete Buttigieg[37] and John Delaney[38].

European Union[edit]

In the European Union a Citizens initiative was started on May 6, 2019, to introduce a carbon fee and dividend. [39][40] The European Citizens' Initiative is a unique and innovative way for citizens to shape Europe by calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal. Once an initiative gathers 1 million signatures, the Commission decides on what follow-up action to take.[41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2016). The Power of Change: Innovation for Development and Deployment of Increasingly Clean Electric Power Technologies. The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/21712. ISBN 978-0-309-37142-1. Retrieved 28 November 2018.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Rosenberg, Stacy; Vedlitz, Arnold; Cowman, Deborah; Zahran, Sammy (August 2010). "Climate Change: A Profile of U.S. Climate Scientists' Perspectives". Climatic Change. 101 (3–4): 311–329. doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9709-9.
  3. ^ Fuller, Dan; Geide-Stevenson, Doris (14 April 2014). "Consensus Among Economists —An Update". The Journal of Economic Education. 45 (2): 131–146. doi:10.1080/00220485.2014.889963.
  4. ^ Haab, Timothy; Whitehead, John (August 30, 2013). "What do Environmental and Resource Economists Think? Results from a Survey of AERE Members".
  5. ^ "Do economists all favour a carbon tax?". The Economist. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  6. ^ Nuccitelli, Dana (2016-01-04). "95% consensus of expert economists: cut carbon pollution". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  7. ^ "How to pay the price for carbon". Nature Climate Change. 8. 30 July 2018. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0256-0. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  8. ^ Haab, Timothy; Whitehead, John (August 30, 2013). "What do Environmental and Resource Economists Think? Results from a Survey of AERE Members".
  9. ^ a b "FAQs". Carbontax.org. 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2016-07-09.
  10. ^ a b Shultz, George; Becker, Gary (April 7, 2013). "Why We Support a Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  11. ^ "Carbon Fee and Dividend (Citizens' Climate Lobby)". citizensclimatelobby.org. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  12. ^ Taylor, Jerry (March 23, 2015). "The Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax" (PDF). Niskanencenter.org. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c "EMF 29: The role of border carbon adjustment in unilateral climate policy". Energy Modeling Forum (EMF). Standford, CA, USA. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
  14. ^ Böhringer, Christoph; Rutherford, Thomas F; Balistreri, Edward J (October 2012). The role of border carbon adjustment in unilateral climate policy: Insights from a model-comparison study — Discussion Paper 2012-54 (PDF). Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard Project on Climate Agreements. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
  15. ^ a b c Böhringer, Christoph; Balistreri, Edward J; Rutherford, Thomas F (December 2012). "The role of border carbon adjustment in unilateral climate policy: overview of an Energy Modeling Forum study (EMF 29)". Energy Economics. 34, Supplement 2: S97–S110. doi:10.1016/j.eneco.2012.10.003. ISSN 0140-9883.
  16. ^ "Carbon Fee and Dividend's Economic Impact". citizensclimatelobby.org. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  17. ^ Nystrom, Scott; Luckow, Patrick (9 June 2014). The economic, climate, fiscal, power, and demographic impact of a national fee-and-dividend carbon tax (PDF). Washington, DC, USA: Regional Economic Models (REMI) and Synapse Energy Economics (Synapse). Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  18. ^ Ummel, Kevin (April 1, 2016). "Impact of CCL's proposed carbon fee and dividend policy: A high-resolution analysis of the financial effect on U.S. households" (PDF). International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis Working Paper. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  19. ^ "LASER TALK: BC Carbon Tax vs Carbon Fee and Dividend - Citizens' Climate Lobby Canada". canada.citizensclimatelobby.org. April 9, 2016.
  20. ^ "Overview of Electricity Sector - PeoplePowerPlanet". PeoplePowerPlanet. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  21. ^ Mines, Ministry of Energy and. "B.C.'s Electricity Rates - Province of British Columbia". www2.gov.bc.ca. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  22. ^ "Balanced Budget 2008 - Province of British Columbia". Bcbudget.gov.bc.ca. 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2016-07-09.
  23. ^ "Rückverteilung der CO2-Abgabe" [Redistribution of the CO2 levy] (in German).
  24. ^ "Citizens Climate Lobby". Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  25. ^ "Carbon Fee and Dividend FAQ". Citizens Climate Lobby. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ "James Hansen rails against cap-and-trade plan in open letter". The Guardian. London. 12 January 2010.
  28. ^ "People's Climate Stewardship / Carbon Fee and Dividend Act of 2010" (PDF). Columbia.edu. Retrieved 2016-07-09.
  29. ^ "Text of H.R.2380 - Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act of 2009". opencongress.org. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  30. ^ Inglis, Bob; Lipinski, Daniel; Flake, Jeff. "The Triple Win: Energy Security, the Economy and Climate Change H.R. 2380, The "Raise Wages, Cut Carbon" Act Of 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 December 2010.
  31. ^ Inglis, Bob (January 5, 2016). "Donald Trump and the Strength of Ten Grinches". The Daily Caller. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  32. ^ Breslow, Jason (October 23, 2013). "Bob Inglis: Climate Change and the Republican Party". PBS.org. Frontline. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  33. ^ "America's Energy Security Trust Fund Act of 2015 (H.R. 3104)". Govtrack.us. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  34. ^ "AJR-43 Greenhouse gases: climate change". California Legislative Information. 1 September 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  35. ^ "H.R.763 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress". congress.gov.
  36. ^ "Sanders, Boxer Propose Climate Change Bills". 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  37. ^ "Democratic Presidential Debate - June 27 (Full) | NBC News". YouTube. 2019-06-27. Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  38. ^ {{cite news|last1=Magliocco|first1=Joseph|last2=Duffy|first2=Brandon|url=https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/17/democratic-candidate-john-delaney-wants-to-pay-you-a-carbon-dividend.html%7Ctitle=Young Voter Money 2020: Democratic candidate John Delaney wants to pay you a carbon dividend to fight climate change|date=2019-07-18|website=CNBC|access-date=2019-07-20
  39. ^ "Citizens Climate Initiative". Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  40. ^ "Climate Income Now". Retrieved Jun 21, 2019.
  41. ^ "The European Citizens Initiative". Retrieved May 27, 2019.

External links[edit]