Cap & Dividend


Via Dave Roberts, an animation aimed at explaining Peter Barnes’ “cap and dividend” concept. But basically the idea is you have a cap and trade system with auctioned permits and then all the revenue from the permits is rebated to the public on a flat per capita basis. Consequently, everyone whose overall carbon footprint is below average for an American will wind up benefiting financially. And thanks to the magic of income inequality, most people have below average footprints (since the tiny number of people flying around in corporate jets between their three homes are skewing the average) and will benefit:

Dave says: “I’ll admit to remaining wildly ambivalent about C&D, vexingly unable to develop the kind of clear, strident opinion the blogosphere demands.”

I maintain a position of clear stridency in favor of ambiguity on this topic. From my armchair, cap and dividend seems like the most politically viable approach. From other people’s armchairs, other approaches seem more politically viable. But the people who really count here are the members of the United States Senate. I would urge committed greens in said body to be willing to get behind whatever version of a carbon pricing scheme can in fact attract the broadest support from their more short-sighted, small-minded, and/or corrupt colleagues. There’s really no sense in people of good will and good faith beating each other up about the merits of these different ideas — the real issue is the empirical question of which approaches can garner support and which cannot