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Carbon Fees with Monthly Per-Person Rebates

Started by: williams.zabel


Laurie Williams, Citizens Climate Lobby Volunteer

My name is Laurie Williams.  I am honored to be participating in the IWECI summit!

The Question I will try to answer is:  How we can get our individual national economies to move away from fossil fuels and to shift rapidly to clean energy and efficiency?

My Short Answer is: By having Carbon Fees with Equal Monthly Per-Person Rebates as part of the Model National Climate Legislation we seek to have each country adapt to their individual situation and enact.

Many environmental justice advocates have been skeptical about financial mechanisms, with good reason.

Specifically, Cap-and-Trade-with-Offsets has been justly criticized as a fatally flawed Wall Street mechanism that attempts to commoditize nature and creates perverse incentives to maintain the status quo.  Cap-and-Trade-with-Offsets pretends to address climate change but is set up to be a profit center of, by and for the rich.   

In contrast, Carbon-Fees-with-Equal-Per-Person-Monthly-Rebates is an economic approach that can help correct the incentives that keep us burning fossil fuels, while still keeping energy affordable for everyone during the transition to clean energy.  It can also help fight the increasing concentration of wealth and power among the super-elite and our largest corporations.

Here is how it would work:

Currently, Fossil Fuel Energy remains less expensive than the Clean Energy alternatives we have today, wind, solar and geothermal.

To change this, we need to add a carbon fee to all fossil fuels as they enter our economies. 

And we also need to ensure that everyone can afford the energy they need during the transition away from fossil fuels!

Carbon fees on fossil fuels would rise gradually each year and insures that current alternatives we have for clean energy, like wind, solar and geothermal energy become significantly cheaper than fossil fuel energy within a known time frame.  This will correct the incentives for the three relevant groups – investors, business and individuals.

Rising Carbon Fees will discourage investors from investing in the Canadian Tar Sands, and get them excited about clean energy.  Why? Because they want to invest in the energy that will be cost-competitive in the future.

Rising Carbon Fees will encourage businesses to minimize their Carbon footprints.  Why, because they need to compete with other businesses and with carbon fees, energy, fossil fuel energy will become a bigger part of their bill. 

Since rising carbon fees will be divided into equal per-person monthly rebates for every resident, everyone will be able to afford the energy they need.  Since the rich use the most energy, the poor will benefit the most, but even the middle class will come out ahead because their rebate check will be higher than the average fees paid for the lowest paid 60 to 70 percent of households.

Part of the Carbon Fees plan would also be to have what are called “border adjustments” so that economies that enact Carbon Fees first can still compete with economies that take longer to do so.

To have Carbon Fees with Rebates become the law, we will need the equivalent of the Civil Rights Movement and the Arab Spring rolled into one.  We will need a movement to educate the public.  We will need marches on Washington and other capitals and in cyberspace to demand this as one of the key elements of Model National Legislation.  I hope to we can work together to a draft model set of  laws that can be adapted by each country and passed as a key part of the  international movement to fight climate change and its devastating impacts.

As one of my heros, Tim DeChistopher has said: today we have the Corporations in charge of the Governments, and the Governments in charge of the People.

Those of us who feel a sacred obligation to protect the wellbeing of future generations believe that We the People, must form a movement that can put us back in charge of our Governments and our Governments back in charge of our corporations.

Model Climate Legislation that includes Carbon Fees with Monthly Per-Person Rebates, can be central to such a movement.

I look forward to discussing this with all of you.  Thank you! 

Reasons for working in this topic, project or business:

I hope to be helpful in solving the urgent problem we are facing.

Root causes of the problems in this field and main barriers:

Key to the climate change problem is the burning of fossil fuels and other industrial processes that release greenhouse gases.

What is needed to overcome barriers to implement solutions:

The Carbon Fees with Equal Per Person Monthly Rebates for all residentis is an approach solution is supported by many economists and environmental activists, including climatologist James Hansen.  However, it is opposed by the rich and powerful, who prefer approaches that will create profits for corporations and other powerful interests.  It will take a widespread movement and broad grassroots support to achieve a Climate Protection Act that includes the carbon fees mechanism.

Specific needs and/or support requests:

Public education.  Widespread awareness of the need to fix the economic incentives that keep us burning fossil fuels and emitting other greenhouse gases. 

Suggested best local solution for this topic:

Carbon Fees with Monthly Per Person Rebates - see links below

Networking opportunities:



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shelley buonaiuto posted

Laurie, thank you for this excellent description of the Carbon Fee and Dividend. I particularly appreciate the simple way you described the superiority of Fee and Dividend to Cap and Trade. In the past few days President Obama has announced that he is proposing EPA regulations for new and existing power plants, largely because there has been no policy forthcoming from the congress that would enact a free market approach such as a carbon tax. As I understand it, a carbon tax would be more amenable to conservative concerns about "growing government", and would also return money to the consumer through the rebates, while EPA regulations would not. As you explained, these rebates would cover the extra costs of rising prices on energy, while incentivizing conservation. The incentive to invest in renewables would also create jobs, many more jobs than the fossil fuel industry now offers. I have spoken a few times with my members of congress, explained the benefits of the carbon fee and dividend, and continue to hear the same excuses: we can't afford it, it will hurt the poor, etc. Sen. Boozman expresses concern for world hunger but sees no connection between climate change and the loss of priceless water and arable land all over the world due to climate change. It is very gratifying to see women's concerns in the global north and south specifically addressed, and I will do what I can to relay the insights and conclusions from the conference to my community and congressmen. Shelley Buonaiuto Co-Chair Fayetteville Citizen's Climate Lobby

shelley buonaiuto posted

oops. that sentence about Sen. Boozman should read, that he sees no connection between world hunger and loss of water and land from climate change.