Some climate change crusaders committed to curbing and eventually eliminating carbon dioxide and all “greenhouse gas” emissions advocate a system called “carbon pricing” that inflates the cost of using certain fuels in order to convince businesses and consumers to cut consumption.
More than 30 colleges are listed as endorsers of the #PutAPriceOnIt carbon pricing campaign developed by Our Climate and Years of Living Dangerously. Part of the #PutAPriceOnIt website states: “One of the priorities of the #PutAPriceOnIt campaign is to gain endorsements from college presidents and demonstrate to lawmakers that institutions shaping tomorrow’s leaders are committed to solving climate change.” The hyperlink within that quote leads to a page about the “Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative” on the Our Climate website.
The #PutAPriceOnIt campaign website describes four carbon pricing schemes—and all four versions take a wrecking ball to free market operations, using the power of government to increase the cost of using certain fuels.
The first variant is a “Carbon Tax,” that the #PutAPriceOnIt campaign likens to a sales tax and says “The tax is usually collected at the point of sale by the government that implemented the tax.” The site explains that the level of the price should prod behavioral alterations: “To be the most effective at reducing carbon pollution, the price must be high enough to change behaviour [sic] and the price must be widely applied across the economy. The money raised can then be used in any number of different ways.”
“Fee and Dividend” carbon pricing proposes a “revenue neutral” tax scheme in which the government collects carbon taxes and then disburses all resulting revenues back to American citizens.
While explaining the “benefits to a revenue neutral carbon price,” #PutAPriceOnIt noted that carbon pricing ultimately targets the complete elimination of fossil fuel consumption: “First, we don’t want to be dependent on the money that comes in from burning fossil fuels, because the long term goal of the carbon price should be to end the use of fossil fuels.”
#PutAPriceOnIt also acknowledged the energy cost burden that would confront poor Americans, but asserted that dividend payouts from tax revenues could help: “Third, the dividend can benefit low-income families that would be the most negatively affected by higher electricity and gas prices that may result from the fee.”
Another possible “revenue neutral” carbon pricing method involves “…a tax swap. For example, lowering or freezing income tax or sales taxes. When British Columbia introduced its carbon tax, they returned the money raised in the form of cuts to corporate and personal taxes.”
“Emissions Trading Schemes / Cap and Trade” carbon pricing enacts an artificial limit by capping the quantity of emissions permitted—this carbon pricing system would force companies to pay for emission permissions, thus raising the cost associated with using certain fuels:
“Instead of taxing each unit of pollution, this approach sets a limit to how much pollution can be released, and then sets up a market to allow among companies or other entities to buy or trade permission to pollute. The price per ton of carbon emitted may vary, but the amount of emissions in theory is ‘capped.’ In some cases, governments may set a floor price for a ton of carbon.”
Each carbon pricing system acts as a control mechanism that financially pressures societal conformity to the government’s preferred energy consumption choices.
In the frequently asked questions section of the website, #PutAPriceOnIt notes that the scope of carbon pricing should extend beyond CO2 gas emissions: “All greenhouse gases should be considered for the pricing policy, not just carbon dioxide. All sectors of the economy possible should be subject to the price in order to avoid market distortion and achieve climate change goals.”
Also in the FAQ section, #PutAPriceOnIt asserts that carbon pricing would not “hurt the economy” but says that carbon pricing can benefit an economy: “After British Columbia implemented a price on carbon, greenhouse-gas emissions fell 4 percent while GDP grew 8 percent from 2008 to 2013. Ireland introduced a carbon price during a financial crisis, and doing so helped the economy get back on its feet (and continues to strengthen the Irish economy today).”
“Here in the U.S., renewable energy provides more jobs than fossil fuels. By boosting clean energy, a price on carbon supports even more jobs and more new business opportunities. Putting a price on carbon encourages emissions reductions at the lowest cost, by giving those affected by the price the flexibility to choose how and when to cut pollution based on their own needs.”
Alex Nitzberg is a freelance conservative journalist and commentator and the host of “The Alex Nitzberg Show” podcast. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.