James Hanson was in New Zealand last month speaking the length of the country.
The rhetoric, he says, is that the planet is in peril. The reality is that little changes.
His solution? Put a price on carbon that comes back as a dividend to each person if they save carbon. Keep the carbon price away from Wall Street as Goldman Sachs and others will make it so complex and make so much money from it that people will neither understand it or feel it in any way. They will just get annoyed by the complex derivatives that Wall Street manufactures and by the money they make. And Wall Street will add no value. But, he said, there was no way to keep them out.
His view of Cap and Trade systems was interesting. He thought the flaws were that they were designed for banks and fossil interests, that they were ineffectual, and could not be made global. He thought also that China and India would not and should not accept caps.
The democratic process is not working the way it should be because of the influence of money. Interestingly the political process in terms of action is working better in China where there was a much greater political awareness of the problem. 300 million Chinese live near the sea and the Government is wise enough to not want to have an economy that is totally oil-addicted. They can see that it is running out.
It may be that legal challenges can work better than the political process has shown itself able to work in the US. He referred to the work of Mary Wood at the university of Oregon and the argument that atmosphere is a public trust asset . Maybe the Courts can enforce this via an injunction .
First order attention needs to go on coal and fossil fuel. Then on storing carbon and then in the soil and storing methane.
He talked about an interesting model of individual carbon credits. Totally aware that Emissions Trading Schemes do not cut it with the public he suggested individual accounts .
So if you don’t use your allocation of carbon you get rewards. If you overuse you have to pay for that. He suggested a start rate of $15 per tonne on all carbon and that would increase $10 per ton per annum. So in ten years it would be $115 per ton. That’s about an extra $1 a gallon on gasoline. It’s been estimated that would likely reduce US consumption by 30%.
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