My attention has been captured by a promising strategy to contain the climate crisis gripping our nation. Perhaps, like me, you rarely find federal climate policy compelling or bold – or speaking directly to both our needs and our reasonable wants. However, that has changed for me.
Let’s go back to Jan of 2019 when the Wall Street Journal published an innovative proposal called “The Economists Statement”. The Statement outlined a strategy based on several straight-forward principles. First, a fee or charge on carbon/fossil fuels at their source – a charge that would rise predictably every year thus allowing businesses to plan and to innovate in “greening” their operations. These collected funds would flow not into the government but directly back to all Americans as “cash-back” dividends to offset their predictably rising costs of fuel and fuel intensive products. In addition, to preserve America’s competitiveness, overseas products imported from “non-carbon tax” countries would be charged at the border to eliminate their price advantage.
In a heartening show of bipartisan single mindedness, this economic strategy has earned the endorsement of 3,623 U.S. economists –- including 28 Nobel Laureate economists. It is worth a closer look by those of us who may not be economists.
A fee on carbon with a cash-back dividend I can grasp. That this provides resources in excess of the expected rise in fuel prices to the two-thirds of Americans who are not “rich” seems ethical as well as good policy. That it is described as “the most cost effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary” encourages me.
What other policy holds out such a promise at no budgetary cost? I personally feel we must try it. As a non-affiliated voter, this is a “must have” provision of the current Reconciliation Bill in the House currently under debate.
Susan Olson lives in Simsbury.