Progressive Democrats Say: “Cut Out Wall Street — Price Carbon Directly and Recycle Revenue to Households.”
10/20/2009 by James Handley
The growing movement for transparent carbon pricing to combat global warming reached a major milestone this week: Progressive Democrats of America, the nationwide grassroots voice for progressive values founded in 2004, has strongly endorsed direct carbon pricing to create incentives for a transition to renewable, low-carbon energy. PDA also advocates “recycling” substantial carbon revenues to households to counteract the potentially regressive effects of carbon pricing and to build long-term public support for carbon pricing
PDA played a key role in the Democratic Party’s surge in the 2006 mid-term elections, as well as in the Democrats’ 2008 victories. Its board includes prominent members of the Progressive Caucus as well as peace, labor and civil rights advocates. PDA says that it seeks to reclaim the Democratic Party as a voice for the people by educating, organizing, and lobbying within as well as outside the Party. Its statement follows:
Global Warming Policy Statement, adopted Oct. 19, 2009. (Footnotes omitted.)
No issue is more of a threat to civilization than the accelerating menace of catastrophic climate destabilization. To avert this disaster, we must make a collective, long-term investment in a new energy infrastructure in order to protect the welfare of future generations.
Focus group research shows that the “…public has come to view clean energy as an immediate and long lasting economic driver,…something that is vitally important to the health of our economy.” Scientists call for urgent action: “Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions, for just another decade, practically eliminates the possibility of near-term return of atmospheric composition beneath the tipping level for catastrophic effects.”
PDA calls on the President and Congress to lead boldly in reducing our country’s oil dependence and use of fossil fuels by investing in walkable, bikeable communities, efficient public transportation, energy conservation technologies and alternative energy development, which all create good-paying and dependable jobs.
PDA supported 2008’s “climate principles letter” circulated in the House of Representatives. To repeat and expand upon its goals, we agree that climate/energy legislation should meet these criteria:
1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a long-term trajectory that will avoid the worst effects of global warming;
2. Transition the United States to an efficient, clean energy economy by putting a price on carbon that will guide investment and personal decisions on every level and lead the world with both incentives and example;
3. Recognize and minimize any adverse economic impacts from global warming legislation and build political support for a price on carbon pollution by “recycling” carbon pricing revenues directly to households; and
4. Aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming.
To help achieve these goals, PDA supports revenue-neutral direct carbon pricing over carbon trading.
Direct carbon pricing:
- Can push America toward an efficient, clean energy economy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a long-term trajectory, by providing a gradually-increasing price on carbon pollution;
- Can minimize adverse economic impacts of legislation by “recycling” a substantial portion of carbon revenue to households through a direct “carbon dividend” or a payroll tax reduction;
- Can provide revenue to aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming;
- Reduces the need for complex and difficult-to-verify regulations and cannot be gamed in a multi-trillion dollar unregulated secondary energy trading market;
- Eliminates offsets, which are difficult to measure and substantiate;
- With WTO-sanctioned border tax adjustments would create immediate incentives for international implementation, as all countries have a taxing mechanism in place but few (if any) can manage a complex carbon trading system;
- Can be set at levels to form the basis for international cooperation and treaties to reduce greenhouse gases to levels consistent with the findings of the IPCC; and
- Would maintain the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions.
The Carbon Tax Center welcomes PDA to the movement for a clear, simple, effective and fair carbon-pricing system as a key component of climate policy.