Could the climate crisis be curbed by auctioning off our country's carbon to the highest bidder? I'm starting to think it's more than possible, it might be the best chance we've got. Plus, you might end up with a check from Big Coal in your mailbox at the end of every month. Can't argue with that. So how does it work?
Right now there are two big-picture ideas for reducing CO2 emissions quickly:
- A Carbon Tax
- Cap and Trade legislation
Cap and Trade legislation basically makes allowances for polluters to pollute to a certain level, and then they have to buy carbon credits from other companies that are using less carbon than they've allocated. The bad news here is that the system rewards current polluters who have done nothing to curb their emissions yet by giving them the highest caps.
But there's an unexplored third option at hand. Something clever and simple and with relatively few flaws: Carbon Auctions.
Here's how it would work:
At the beginning of ever year, the US government says how many tons of carbon they're going to allow to be released into the air by corporations. Then the put that amount of carbon up for auction. Companies then bid for the right to emit carbon dioxide. So coal plants would have to buy enormous numbers of carbon credits, or incorporate sequestration technology. Wind, solar and geothermal would not, and so would become relatively inexpensive.
Now, obviously power producers will have to pass this cost on to the consumer. However, the US government will pass the proceeds from the carbon tax to the consumer as well. In effect, we'd be selling the rights to pollute the country, and we'd each get a check at the end of the month.
The end results of a carbon auction are:
- Increased cost of carbon-intensive activities
- Increased demand for carbon mitigation technology
- Decreased cost of carbon-neutral activities
- Decreased greenhouse emissions
- A Monthly dividend check in your mailbox to help pay higher bills.
Finally, a carbon solution that could ACTUALLY PASS THROUGH CONGRESS!To hear more about carbon auctions check out this podcast with Robert Reich, Clinton's Labor Secretary.
Hat Tip to Eric
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