Why I Call It the Breath Tax
Rudd had hoped to take his carbon emissions trade scheme to next week’s global talks in Copenhagen, where world leaders will discuss new targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions….
The rejection gives Rudd a legal trigger to call an election, that could come as early as March or April 2010, and to then ram his laws through a special joint sitting of both houses of parliament if he is returned to power.
“We will do all we can, and continue to do all we can to safeguard our children’s future. And we will not take a backward step,” Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told a hostile Senate at the end of a marathon week-long debate….
The Senate rejection throws the future of carbon trading in Australia into confusion, creating new uncertainty for business which had sought clarity from the political debate.
“From the point of view of a lot of businesses in Australia they’re now back in the dark. No-one knows what is coming next,” said Tim Hanlin, chief executive of the Australian Climate Exchange.
Unfortunately, the target for climate stabilization may be moving more quickly than progress on policy. Recent empirical evidence indicates climate change is taking place considerably faster than scientists had expected only a decade ago. Furthermore, paleoclimatic research indicates that earlier climate change episodes also took place rapidly. If rapid change is occurring, a considerably lower policy target than 450 ppm is justified. The 350 ppm CO2 goal is only starting to receive attention among policy makers or in the global political discussions over climate, although Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Nicholas Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review, have recently endorsed the 350 ppm target. The chief climate scientist at NASA, James Hansen, argues that a reduction from the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, 385 ppm, to 350 ppm CO2 by 2100 will be essential to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate change. The lag in the discussion is in part due to the lack of analyses in the economics literature of the costs and benefits of a 350 ppm CO2 stabilization trajectory. For this reason, Economics for Equity and the Environment Network (E3) initiated this study of the economics of the 350 ppm target.
Hansen and his co-authors describe a detailed scenario for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of
reaching 350 ppm CO2 by 2100:
• Coal burning is phased out or achieves 100 percent carbon capture by 2030.
• Oil and gas prices rise steadily as these finite resources approach exhaustion.
• A combination of ending deforestation and initiating large-scale reforestation causes significant
negative emissions (that is, a withdrawal of CO2 from the atmosphere).
What does it take to get to 350?
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The authors of the SEI proposal use less elegant language: “The GDRs’ burden-sharing system is progressive with respect to both responsibility and capacity.”
They reason that 15.6% of the world’s population are in countries in the “high income” bracket and should be responsible for 78.5% of GDR costs of emissions control. Countries in the “low income” bracket contain 36.7% of the world’s population and should be responsible for only 0.5% of the costs.
The United States, they calculate, should pay 34.3% of the global bill, more than four times the burden of any other country.
SEI estimates that American taxpayers would need to pay $2,697 in annual per capita costs to achieve GDR’s global goals.
This amount is in addition to what taxpayers would pay for a carbon tax or cap-and-trade costs to cut emissions. The SEI study does not hazard a guess as to how much it would cost developed countries like the U.S. to cut their own emissions. Nor does it compare the cost and effectiveness of various policy alternatives.
Even with respect to only the high-income nations, the average U.S. taxpayer is very heavily punished. The average burden among high-income nations is only $1,845 per taxpayer. Taxpayers in 47 nations have to pay, on average, less than $5 each. People in 17 nations wouldn’t owe a penny.
SEI’s headquarters is in faraway Stockholm, Sweden. But a U.S. headquarters office opened at the Tufts University campus in Somerville, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb, in April 2006.
According to IRS records, the U.S. Center of the Stockholm Environment Institute reported revenue of $1,483,391, with U.S. government agency support of $929,786. The total amount of revenue available to SEI is unavailable because many SEI-US projects, such as the GDR framework proposal, are developed in conjunction with SEI in Sweden, which has disclosed its revenue sources but not their amounts.
According to its 2007 annual report, SEI support comes from universities, foundations, corporations, the Swedish, U.S. and other foreign governments, and various nongovernmental organizations
SEI also works closely with the Earth Island Institute, one of America’s most radical environmental groups. Earth Island’s “EcoEquity” project was co-founded by Tom Athanasiou, one of the authors of the GDR framework.
The Earth Island Institute, which has been featured in numerous Capital Research Center reports, was founded in 1982 by David Brower, an anti-technology extremist so radical he was once kicked out of the Sierra Club.
Earth Island regards itself as an “incubator” and “fiscal sponsor” for grassroots activist groups like Athanasiou’s EcoEquity project.
One of the announced purposes of EcoEquity is to “prepare the American people” for the demands that GDR will make of them.
Earth Island receives funding from the Surdna Foundation ($150,000 in 2006), George Soros’s Open Society Institute ($300,000 in 2006), Marisla Foundation ($40,000 in 2006), Tides Foundation (more than $420,000 since 1999), and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation (more than $150,000 since 1999). (Read more about the Earth Island Institute in “Ted Turner: Down, But Not Out,” Foundation Watch, November 2004; “‘Energy Independence’: A Formula For Attacking Energy Production,” Organization Trends, January 2007; and “Eco-Terrorism,” Organization Trends, February 2007.
Just as in Australia, our government is trying to force this global warming hoax down our throats. In less than one week, our President will head to Copenhagen. Please make sure the White House knows how you feel on treaties and legislation that would lead to an eventual “Breath Tax”.