Conservatives should push for carbon fee-and-dividend

International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases latest report

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest and possibly most pessimistic report earlier this month.

According to the report, the use of fossil fuels needs to be phased out around the world by 2100 if “severe, pervasive and irreversible” damage is to be avoided.

The cost of doing nothing would be much more than taking action, the IPCC said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is quoted as saying, “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”

Although there likely is no single answer to climate change, many believe that a carbon fee-and-dividend system, as proposed by climate scientist Jame Hansen, would be a necessary and important component to any solution.

The system would consist of a carbon tax or fee that would be collected as fossil fuels came out of the ground or across the border.

The proceeds then would be distributed to everyone as a carbon dividend or basic income grant.

A group called Citizens Climate Lobby started in the United States in 2007 to lobby members of Congress to bring in a carbon fee-and-dividend system.

Since then it has expanded to Canada and around the world.

Interestingly, some of those at CCL-Canada believe that the Conservatives are the federal party most likely to bring in a carbon fee-and-dividend system.

Certainly, the carbon tax here in British Columbia was brought in by Gordon Campbell who, although the leader of the BC Liberals, is a small-c conservative.

A carbon fee-and-dividend system would be a small government solution with minimal bureaucracy, which Conservatives should like.

It would put a tax on fossil fuels that would better represent the price those fuels cost our environment, and then it would let the market decide which alternative sources of energy should replace those fossil fuels.

And it would be hard to imagine anything that would take the wind out the sails of those who criticize the Conservatives’s environmental record than for this government to bring in a carbon fee-and-dividend system.