Q&A – FAQs

This page addresses questions about the ‘Fee & Dividend’ climate policy:

[This section will be updated as new information and understanding is achieved.]

Short Summary

  1. Time – Delays in implementing meaningful policy will have future costs associated with those delays. Those future costs will increase exponentially with longer delays and may simply become unaffordable for human society.
  2. Inertia – Thermal inertia and Co2 inertia (atmospheric lifetime of Co2) are both important issues to consider. There is more warming in the pipeline in the oceans and reversing the warming will take centuries due to the atmospheric lifetime of Co2.
  3. Policy – Choosing the wrong policy at this late date may, or most certainly will impede progress of more meaningful policy such as ‘Fee & Dividend’. Policy-makers may be lulled into complacency by assuming they have done something more meaningful, when in fact ‘Cap and Trade’, by all reasonable indications is significantly less meaningful than ‘Fee & Dividend’.

Expanded Summary

The main considerations are simple. They are based not only on the science we do understand, but the science we don’t understand. As it stands right now the observations are exceeding the models in important areas such as Sea Level Rise and Arctic Ice Melt. This is certainly not good news. And so these considerations are:

  1. Time – Delays in policy and action will certainly have costs associated with them. We have squandered precious time by delaying action.
  2. Inertia – Thermal inertia and the atmospheric lifetime of Co2 requires immediate abatement to attempt to avoid climate and economic tipping points to be reached. The key point about the ocean is that it adds inertia to the system.  The warming we have experienced to date is mostly in response to the emissions of greenhouse gases decades ago.  We haven’t yet felt the full effect of the gases emitted over the past couple decades. The concept of inertia is pertinent to the concept of tipping point because it makes it very hard to reverse the course of climate change quickly, even if we are facing imminent disaster.
    • More than 90% of the extra heat due to GHG increases has been stored in the oceans and this ocean heat will be released over time into the atmosphere above moving toward thermal equilibrium at a higher state.
    • Oceanic Thermal Inertia: Oceans heat and cool much more slowly than the atmosphere. It is important to understand that there is tremendous inertia in the ocean. The warming we have experienced to date is mostly in response to the emissions of greenhouse gases of decades ago. So we can expect more warming in the pipeline for the earth.
    • As the atmosphere continues to warm so will the ocean which absorbs a great amount of heat. Warmer oceans also mean more evaporation. Since water (H2O) is also a greenhouse gas, we can reasonably expect that to amplify the warming in what as known as a positive feedback.
    • Co2 Inertia: CO2 stays in the atmosphere for a long time (centuries) Even if emissions were halted today it would take the earth a very long time to return to it’s natural state, even if emissions were zeroed today.
  3. Policy – Selecting the wrong policy is expected to increase costs at all levels of human society.
    • Choosing the wrong policy at this late date may, or most certainly will impede progress of more meaningful policy such as ‘Fee & Dividend’.
    • Policy-makers may be lulled into complacency by assuming they have done something more meaningful, when in fact ‘Cap and Trade’, by all reasonable indications is significantly less meaningful than ‘Fee & Dividend’.

Time, inertia, and type of policy are important considerations when examining meaningful climate policy that is effective and efficient. The onus is upon individuals and groups to push ‘meaningful’. We will need to help people and policy makers understand the critical nature of the issue and it’s expected economic costs.

Climate Tipping Points: Generally, points at which new climate mechanisms have significantly changed form their previous state making it more difficult to reverse through mitigation or that lead to more powerful feedback mechanisms in the climate system.

Economic Tipping Points: Generally, points at which economic capacity in the resource and monetary economies may alter from previous states into states which may be difficult to reverse or manage.

Issues

1)  The “fee” will just cause companies to raise their fees on the public so there will be no net change in cost.

  • Correct: The fee will cause increased costs that will be passed on. A progressive fee will cause a supply/demand shift from fossil fuels to renewable/sustainable energy.
  1. The policy consideration is designed to be revenue neutral in the sense that the fee is collected and then returned to the public.
  2. Shifting to renewable/sustainable energy will progressively reduce costs in those sectors as greater efficiencies are achieved and are expected to reduce related energy costs.
  3. The costs of doing nothing is exponentially accelerating inflation as crop production capacity becomes more severely impinged upon. This will affect discretionary spending that will affect all major monetary economies worldwide.

2)  The government will be taking a huge cut for “overhead” to distribute the dividends and maintain the apparatus.

  • The more signatures on this petition, the more power this (our) lobby has. Enough signatures and we can influence the legislation itself when the time comes. Our goal is absolutely to deploy/enable the most efficient effective means.
    1. The policy consideration is designed to be revenue neutral in the sense that the fee is collected and then returned to the public.
    2. Our goal is to lobby that the government does not take a ‘huge cut’ for “overhead”. The more signatures we achieve on the petition and the more we educate the public, the better our chances.

3)  Climate Scientists should do climate science and economists should handle the economy.

  1. Considering climate science without economic considerations is dangerous. The two are intrinsically linked.
  2. Interdisciplinary work between climate and economy reveals important synergies that if not considered together reduces our capacity to understand the critical ties between climate and economy.

4) Since Cap & Trade is already on the table wouldn’t it be beneficial to just get it passed and then try to refine the policy or push Fee & dividend?

  • Considerations include the following:
  1. There is a real risk that if ‘Cap and Trade’ is passed, policy-makers will feel that they have done something truly meaningful. That may cause further delay more meaningful policy, namely ‘Fee & Dividend’.
  2. Cap & Trade is full of loopholes and therefore is more likely to not provide meaningful emission reductions in a relevant and timely manner.
  3. Time is of the essence. If we truly wish to avoid severe economic degradation due to latitudinal shift we need an effective policy now. Passing Cap and Trade may easily cause years of delay and those years are reasonably expected to be very costly as indicated by the security and synthesis reports.
  4. Our goal is to influence the political will and direct it towards ‘Fee & Dividend’.
  5. The fossil fuel industry prefers Cap and Trade if any policy is to be passed. This is because it is most advantageous to their profitability. But it is not most advantageous to modern civilization. If we wish to preserve our civilization to the greatest degree possible, it is critical that we reduce emissions as rapidly as possible. Cap and Trade is ‘not’ designed in a manner to achieve meaningful reductions of greenhouse gases.

5) Shouldn’t we concentrate on enabling new technologies and businesses to develop needed technology and methods to solve this problem by enabling market forces to drive solutions?

  • Fee & Dividend provides the best of both worlds. A progressively increasing fee drives incentive to develop new technologies and methods to achieve the goal of reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  1. By avoiding subsidizing the development we avoid allowing the policy to become a political football that politicians and corporations will fight over.
  2. Reducing the fight over funds reduces the inefficiency of political corporate development.
  3. Anyone that is even slightly familiar with the ability of government and corporate subsidy knows that it generates a large bulk of competing proposals that are lobbied at policy maker level by the corporations that want the money. This typically causes many less efficient, less effective, and sometimes even absurd technologies to be developed with taxpayer money. More often than not, these technologies are ineffective.
  4. Reducing or eliminating the subsidy impels the corporations to only develop solutions that will be meaningful to the market reality. That saves the taxpayers money and produces better solutions. Don’t be fooled.

6) Will the progressive fee affect costs in third world nations. Isn’t there a  justice issue?

  • Yes. The best way to address this is directly. The simple fact is that the we have ignored this problem for too long and it will impact every facet of our existence. There will be economic and human costs.
  1. Doing nothing, or implementing less meaningful policy will increase costs across the board.
  2. The security reports and synthesis analysis show that doing nothing may/will result in a complete collapse of the economic and geopolitical structure.
  3. Implementing the wrong policy may set policy on a course that allow us to pass economic and climate tipping points thus reducing mitigation and adaptation capacity.

7) Cap and Trade vs. Fee & Dividend. Isn’t any policy a good start and then we can refine it?

  • This thinking should be considerate of what we as a people, know about how lobbyists and policy makers function. Individuals already know that policy making in the political realm is replete with trading, bargaining and ‘give and take’ to get something passed. So, why not just pass Cap & Trade as that seems to have political inertia now?
  1. Cap and Trade is riddled with loopholes that allow greater emissions of greenhouse gasses than would a straightforward ‘Fee & Dividend’ approach.
  2. We simply don’t have time. We have squandered all the spare time we had on arguing about whether or not global warming is real, or human caused. We are now out of time and it will be a race to try to save economic capacity and reduce carbon emissions simultaneously.
  3. To reiterate: passing Cap & Trade may create enough delay for the overall economic system to tip more precariously toward a point at which economic function may be so severely impaired that recovery becomes more costly and difficult, or even impossible.
  4. Pushing hard and fast for ‘Fee & Dividend’ and getting it in place of Cap and Trade will get us on the right track from the start and increase the odds of success.
  5. In this case, it is reasonable to say that pushing for the best system first will greatly improve our odds and chance for success as a human race. Passing Cap and Trade is more likely to increase our chances for higher future costs and overall system degradation. By all indications, Cap and Trade may severely handicap or disable our capacity for future economic sustainability.

‘Fee & Dividend’ is a vastly superior policy.

A quantitative analysis conducted by Dr. Robert Corell, along with a team of scientists, showed that the proposals submitted at COP15 still added up to a 700ppm world by 2100. The science clearly shows that this is untenable as a policy consideration. Fee and Dividend has the benefits of being simple in construction and simple to implement and monitor the progression of the fee to produce maximum benefit with minimum harm to the economy.