The cost of burning fossil fuels is paid by all of us, but the benefits are disproportionately gained by industry. There is very little incentive to control the rate at which fossil fuels are burned or CO2 is released into the atmosphere.
A carbon fee and dividend, similar to the one proposed by the conservative Climate Leadership Council, would allow businesses to find market-based solutions to their carbon emissions while benefiting American citizens and providing funding for alternative fuel research and upgrades to our current energy systems. By having it increase at regular intervals, we can allow businesses to plan for their transition to sustainable energy. By having those intervals be aggressive, we can be sure to hit our net-zero target on schedule.
Starting at $40/ton, the fee would raise hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Increasing it by $5/year for the first 4 years and then $10/year until we hit net-zero emissions would ensure that businesses have a “deadline” for the transition, but can still make the transition on a timeline that makes sense for them. By some estimations, even a less aggressive carbon fee structure would reduce emissions by 90% by 2050.
While the amount of money would necessarily decrease over time, eventually zero-ing out, we can use the money before that time to help fund the transition to a sustainable economy, especially by subsidizing the costs of residential upgrades.
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Problems to be Solved
- The costs of burning fossil fuels are felt by everyone, with the benefits going to fewer.
- There is no strong incentive for corporations to stop burning fossil fuels.
We need to have companies internalize the cost of carbon emissions to provide incentives for them to innovate and invest in cleaner technologies and processes. If you are pumping carbon into the atmosphere, you should pay your fellow citizens for it as we all pay for it in the end. We also need to transfer the benefits to citizens directly and use the money to improve the efficiency and availability of renewable energy.
- Provide benefits directly to Americans, who suffer the negative effects of industrial fossil fuel use
- Disincentivize reliance on fossil fuels
As President, I will...
- Propose a carbon fee and dividend system that:
- Sets an initial carbon tax of $40/ton, which would increase in regular intervals of $5/ton for the first 4 years and then $10/ton until it hits $100/ton.
- Create a border carbon adjustment to protect American goods that would:
- Charge a fee on imports from countries that don’t impose a similar carbon fee, or some type of carbon tax.
- Provide a rebate on exports to countries that don’t impose a similar carbon fee, or some type of carbon tax.
- Dedicate at least half of the money raised through the fee to dividends specifically designed to help Americans afford transitions to sustainable energy sources and vehicles.