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Monday, April 26, 2010

James Hansen: Earth Day on the Mall

Earth Day on the Mall

The remarks that I made at the Earth Day gathering on the Mall in Washington include discussion of a proposed fee-and-dividend bill, with the fee rising at essentially the rate proposed by Congressman Larson.  One hundred percent of the revenue collected would be distributed to the public, so that families can afford the energy they need during the transition to a clean energy future. 

James Handley (Carbon Tax Center) and I had an encouraging discussion with Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who volunteered to work with us in advancing the concept. We have also had encouraging discussions with staffers of Republicans. 

The most frequent "criticism" of fee-and-dividend (a.k.a. fee-and-green-check) goes something like this "yes, it is the most efficient and least costly way to reduce carbon emissions, but such a simple honest approach without give-aways is just not the way Washington works, so it is impossible."  Maybe -- it is surely impossible if we give in to such negative thinking -- but if enough people start insisting on such an approach, it becomes possible.

Perhaps the most important point is that a carbon fee is the only approach that conceivably can work globally.  There is zero chance that China or India will accept a cap.  Nor should they -- their per capita emissions are an order of magnitude smaller than those in the United States.  There are many reasons why they will be willing to discuss a rising fee on carbon emissions (they do not want a growing fossil fuel addiction; they want their huge investments in solar, wind and nuclear power to compete effectively against fossil fuels, cleaning up their huge air and water pollution problems).  And they would suffer more than most from climate change and sea level rise.

Criticisms welcome.

Jim Hansen
To view past communications from Dr. Hansen, please visit his website at:

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