The demise this year of Gov. Inslee’s proposed carbon tax in the Washington Legislature reminds us of the importance of dealing with climate change, but also of the political challenges involved. Various groups have argued that the proposed bill was revised to the point that it would have been ineffective (because it failed to price carbon enough), unfair (because it singled out exemptions), and unaffordable (because it included insufficient help to citizens who’d pay higher costs).
An approach that avoids all three problems is an across-the-board carbon fee and dividend. By levying an initial fee of, say, $15 per ton of CO2 equivalent emissions at the point of entry into the economy, and predictably increasing it $10 per year, while — importantly — returning the net proceeds in equal amounts back to all families in the form of a dividend, we can firmly discourage fossil fuels and incentivize clean energy. What’s more, the dividend allows both citizens and corporations to make financial decisions on how to transition to the new economy in ways that work for us. This approach keeps government intervention to a minimum while dramatically reducing carbon pollution. Check it out and get involved.