We live in distressing times. It is bad enough that there are over a hundred wildfires in Australia, and one of them is a good deal bigger than Delaware, but climate change is clearly hitting the United States, with droughts, floods, and wildfires of our own. Climate activists have been trying to address the problem, but some people in government seem bent on making it worse for the short-term benefits of their friends.
In New Hampshire, the Carbon Cashback Coalition is offering us some hope, as it has a realistic chance of making changes in that state’s dependence on fossil fuels. The approach is unique, because it makes fairness for all the top priority.
Nearly 100% of scientists say we are in trouble with climate change. (A MSNBC survey was only able to find four out of nearly 70,000 recently published climate and weather scientists who disagreed.) We have also heard economists say that the most effective and fair way to reduce carbon emissions would be to make the emitters pay. But there is one big problem with that approach. It has always been taken to mean we need a tax, and people do not like taxes.
The Carbon Cashback Coalition’s approach is really simple. What it entails is that a price is added to all fossil fuels, but 100% of that price is distributed evenly to state residents. It can hardly be called a tax. It is really more like a small payment for a state lottery that always pays off for everyone equally.
The implication is an increase of one cent for each pound of CO₂ that burning a fuel will release. That implies an increase for the price of gasoline of about 18¢ per gallon – an increase of 1¢ per mile for some gas-guzzlers. That cost could be considerably lower than what people might pay for a single, unwise political assassination in the Middle East.
It’s important that the amount of money gathered in would be equal to the amount sent back to residents. Those people who are the most wasteful would pay the most. Those people who are at low income would benefit the most, in terms of a percentage of their income. Representative Ken Wells of Andover told us that he believes the majority of people, about 60%, would come out ahead financially. For people who are very short of cash, Wells said there is an amendment to the bill that would allow them to be paid monthly.
The New Hampshire H.B.735 would implement carbon cashback, with 100% of the increased fuel costs going back to residents. Those pushing for the bill are looking for supporters who can educate local people, get signatures for petitions, and do other advocacy work.
We should be absolutely clear on this. The people who will pay most are the people who emit the most CO₂. But everyone would get a check each year, distributing equally everything taken in.
Wells suggested a website for those who are interested in learning more: carboncashback.org.