In the US, fossil fuels still account for about 80% of energy production. The trouble is, producing and burning just one gallon of gasoline produces 24 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Historically, the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has hovered around 200-280 parts per million. In 2013, it exceeded 400 ppm and just keeps rising.
Carbon dioxide in high concentrations is dangerous for our health. But what do we do? How do we change something that is such a huge part of our society right now?
The carbon dividends proposal offers an innovative solution.
What Are Carbon Dividends?
The carbon dividends plan is an initiative proposed by the Climate Leadership Council, whose aim is to steadily lower the use of fossil fuels. To do it, they would place a fee on the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels.
They propose a starting fee of $15 per metric ton and raising it by $10 every year thereafter.
The purpose is to create awareness of the true cost of burning fossil fuels.
Where Does the Money Go?
Back to the average American.
The money would be collected and held in a Carbon Fees Trust Fund. Administrative costs would be deducted and American households would receive the rest in carbon dividends each month.
It is estimated that about 2/3 of Americans would receive more in dividends than they would pay in higher fuel prices.
Fueling the Economy
Most other climate change initiatives send the generated revenue somewhere else. For example, some would use it to fund clean energy or climate mitigation efforts.
By giving it back to the American people, it would help mitigate the higher costs of energy for them, as well as fuel the economy (pun intended). The stimulus of this money entering the economy is projected to produce 2.8 million jobs.
Clean Air for All
Back in 2013, Regional Economic Models, Inc. was commissioned to study the effects of a carbon fee and dividends plan.
Aside from economic impacts, they found that the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should diminish by 50% in only 20 years. Since the presence of carbon dioxide in the air can partially contribute to premature death, nearly 230,000 lives would be saved by cleaner air.
That’s something we can all breathe easier about.
Of course, for the carbon dividends plan to work, it needs to be implemented. The Climate Citizen’s Lobby has been advocating for this type of plan for almost a decade. As expected, politicians are still arguing over what to do about climate change.
A big concern is implementing this type of a plan on a large-scale at the federal level without first trying it at the state level.
However, the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was introduced in the House in 2019. With support from both sides of the political aisle, a full-scale carbon fee and dividends plan could be in the works sooner than we think.
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