is my #1 issue. It's a crisis of immense proportions, and almost
everything is at stake. I know, I wish it weren't happening too.
I have other things that I could be doing. Other generations have
had to fight World War II, end slavery, or rebel against an empire
and create a new republic. We get to tackle climate change.
I have a lot
more to say about it, but for now, here are some links.
Projects I helped
start or have worked on:
Share - I think this is a key solution to climate change. A
type of cap and auction system that returns the value of increasingly
scarce emissions to the people. The government caps GHG (carbon)
emissions, sends every person their "Share" (a certificate
denominated in tons: 16 tons CO2), which people can sell to companies
via banks or brokerages.
Protection Campaign- Sonoma County - I co-founded the CPC with
Ann Hancock in 2001. We helped 9 cities and the County of Sonoma
pass resolutions to reduce their GHGs. We promoted ICLEI's Cities
for Climate Protection at a regional level, and raised awareness
among various stakeholder groups, building support for an aggressive
local emissions reduction target.
Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority - I worked here as Program Manager from 2010-2012. It is a new agency created by State legislation to lead and coordinate climate protection efforts among the 9 cities, County, and special districts. Here is an article on an innovative efficiency financing pilot I helped get going.
Area Air Quality Management District Climate Protection Program
- I wrote up a plan for this program in 2002. With the CPC, I encouraged
the Air District to become a regional leader on climate change.
to the Air District on the Overlap of Air Quality and Climate Protection-
Area Joint Policy Committee Regional Climate-Change Strategy
cities to address climate change:
Cities for Climate Protection Program
U.S. Conference of Mayor's Statement
on Climate Change
is a complex problem. Categories
of causes of climate change:
Energy use: 150 years of fossil fuel dependency
efficiency (our greatest uptapped resource), solar, wind, biomass,
clean hydrogen, using our imagination.
Transportation: infrastructure and land use that encourages
inefficiencies, a car-culture (trust me, I live in Los Angeles),
Detroit automakers that are stuck in a 1950's mentality
cars, smart growth, public transit, bicycles
Economics: "externalities" providing the wrong price
signal, subsidies to dirty technologies, political-economy problem
with campaign finance, coal states, automakers, and oil company
the price signal, subsidize green technologies, campaign finance
reform, skeptical economists should read the Stern Report. Sky
Trust and Carbon Share- cap and auction (polluter pays) with
rebates to consumers.
Cultural values: "Ew, the bus is dirty." "I've
watched TV all day, so now I'm too tired to ride my bike to
the store." "But the compact flourescent lightbulb
looks weird, and I'm not a hippie." "I've worked at
the public utility my whole life, I'm retiring in 4 years, and
I don't want to make drastic changes to my routine- let the
next generation deal with it."
who protect the climate are very, very cool.
Communication challenges: Tendencies to focus on the problem,
not the solutions (for example "An Inconvenient Truth"),
difficult to motivate people who are already overwhelmed by
other problems (health care, education, etc)
on solutions, and what you can do. Focus on your community,
and the institutions around you. Your city, church, school,
etc. It's related to health and education.
issues: Climate change is not really a liberal or conservative
issue. A hurricane does not care what your political views are.
The ice cap won't decide to melt or not depending on your views
of state versus market. The parts per million in the atmosphere
is a scientific fact, and the political aspect comes into play
only in deciding how to respond, not whether to respond.
solutions that do not favor one group over another. Try to solve
multiple problems at once (equity), but don't get carried away.
If there are alligator shoes on the lobbyists, be suspicious.
Look out for old ideas repackaged as solutions, when they are
Equity issues: Hurricane Katrina, many solutions are geared
toward high-income people (solar, hybrid vehicles), but what
about Green Collar jobs in the inner city?
Trust and Carbon Share- cap and auction (polluter pays) with
rebates to consumers. The per capita rebate helps
low-income people more.
We need a Cap
that ensures two things:
1) that everyone
is treated fairly and equally in the system, and
2) that scale
of the effort is adequate to addressing the problem
A Cap versus
a Tax: A Cap is a quantity restriction where price can fluctuate.
A Carbon Tax sets a given price and allows the quantity of emissions
to fluctuate. Although there is a debate between the camps of environmentalists
and economists over which is better, I believe we need both a Cap
and a Tax.
In fact, a Carbon
Tax can act as a price floor in a Cap and Auction system. We will
need local carbon fees to pay for local programs, and we'll need
an economy-wide cap and probably sector-specific caps to move the
economy in theright overall direction and make sure emissions are
actually reduced and all these market mechanisms don't just make
money for speculators or traders.
programs could produce billions of dollars in capital flows, but
who will benefit?
Some types of cap and trade programs only benefit polluting corporations.
The design of the carbon market can determine who benefits.
permits: If emission permits under the cap are given to polluters
(the fossil fuel industry) for free, then the scarcity rent (value
of permits produced by the limited supply under the cap) goes to
those polluting companies. If, on the other hand, emission permits
are auctioned or sold to those companies, then the right price signal
is given to reduce emissions, and revenue is generated.
How to spend
the revenue: This is the million (billion) dollar question. There
are several possible answers to spending the revenue.
Share is a concept for a carbon market that returns the value
of GHG emissions to people. www.carbonshare.org
provides each individual or household a Share of the year's CO2
cap (for example: 16 tons), which may be sold to upstream companies
via a bank or brokerage. In addition to a government auction market,
we could have a public CO2 market that everyone can participate
I understand that transaction costs may be slightly higher if every
person had to sell their own Share rather than have the government
do it for them and just give them the dividend, but the price signal
could be stronger when you have more shareholders selling rather
than one (possibly corruptible) government auction. We're talking
trillions of dollars, so the more transparent, the better.
Why issue Shares
instead of Cash Dividends? For some reason, I don't mind California
doing a Dividend, but I'm worried about who controls the Federal
Government, and the tendency to siphon billions out of the Treasury
when it should be going back to the people.
I actually like the idea that people would be given a choice on
their tax form: "How would you like your climate allocation?"
And you have three check boxes: 1) Cash Dividend, 2) Tax Rebate,
or 3) Share.
Here's a line item on a future tax form:
is in some ways a combination of Cap and Dividend and Cap and Share.
and Dividend is a form of cap and auction (where polluters pay
for the permits) that returns the auction revenues as rebates to
consumers. It is also called The Sky Trust.
Cap and Invest
would spend the auction revenues on green technologies and research
and development. However, instead of using auction revenues, the
investments could be funded by carbon fees on low-performing technologies
- similar to the Clean Cars Feebate proposed by Union of Concerned
Cap and Green
Jobs is a version of a concept promoted by Van Jones of Green For
All and the Ella Baker Center. This would spend revenues on green
collar jobs, job training in solar and wind industries, energy retrofitting
jobs, and other green jobs. However, instead of using auction revenues,
the jobs programs could be funded by redirecting Federal funds in
the next president's administration.
market design recommendations:
1) An upstream
system. It's easier to turn off the water at the tap than at the
sprinkler. So regulate upstream companies in the economy-wide cap.
Upstream companies would need to buy the permits.
2) Auction 100%
3) Return revenues
to consumers who will be paying higher fuel and electricity prices.
This could be done with a cash dividend from a government auction,
a tax rebate, or a Share.
4) A price floor
would keep permit prices from falling too low, and provide a continued
price signal to allow companies to make long term investments in
At some point,
there will be the need for a global institution that can manage
the transition towards per capita equity in GHG emissions, be it
through Contraction & Convergence, Cap and Share, Cap and Dividend,
Kyoto2, or some other program. At that point, a Global Climate Trust
would be established to facilitate interactions of governments and
other organizations into a common framework. In the meantime, a
citizen's movement may be necessary to encourage the formation of
such a trust, and to make contacts with groups around the world
that are thinking in this way. Find out more at the Global Climate Trust website.
More to come...
The Ecology of Money- The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability,
based in Ireland, has been promoting ideas related to climate and
and Share- A campaign started by FEASTA to promote a method
of distributing emissions "shares" to people. Also see
and Convergence- This is an equity framework where the 1st world
contracts, and the 3rd world converges towards per capita equity
in GHG emissions. It may sound unrealistic, but German Chancellor
Angela Merkel has been discussing a
version of this, per capita as the basis for a post-Kyoto treaty.
"Merkel suggested that as a compromise, developing countries
should be allowed to increase their emissions per capita while industrialized
national cut theirs, until both sides reach the same level."
``I can't imagine that the newly industrializing countries one day
will be allowed to produce more carbon dioxide per head than the
industrial countries, if we want to come to a fair agreement,''
model- A Dutch program to assess international agreements
Sky Trust- Developed by author Peter Barnes. The Sky Trust will
auction emission permits, and return the proceeds to people as dividends.
It is like a Carbon Fed. "Carbon Capping: A Citizen's Guide"
Good books on
climate change: The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery, Heat
by George Monbiot, Contraction & Convergence by Aubrey
Meyer, The Ecology of Money by Richard Douthwaite, and several
books by Peter Barnes.
Saving the Earth
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