Monday, February 15, 2010

Corbin-Mark & Hansen Just Plain Wrong on Cap & Trade

Cecil Corbin-Mark, left, of West Harlem Environmental Action (WEACT) and James Hansen, right, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, are wrong about cap and trade. And we cannot distinguish between their opposition to cap and trade and their promotion of fee and dividend. They admit that fee and dividend will raise the price of electricity just as they decry cap and trade for supposedly doing the same thing. We believe that a properly structured cap and trade program can create jobs and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

Corbin-Mark and Hansen recently addressed their concerns at events in New York. They describe fee-and-dividend as an approach that will reduce carbon emissions. We think they both underestimate the benefits of cap and trade while promoting the fee and dividend as a reasonable alternative. In addition to Corbin-Mark and Hansen, Charles Komanoff of the Carbon Tax Centre, and Father Paul Mayer of the Climate Crisis Coalition, also spoke about the inequity of a cap-and-trade system at the New York events. Their recommendation is similar to the Cantwell-Collins Cap and Dividend legislation currently pending in the Senate. Fee and Dividend and Cap and Dividend are just too bureaucratic and both limit the innovation prospects of the private sector to cost-effectively implement a dynamic greenhouse gas emissions reduction program.

A carbon trading system depends on allocating a market price to carbon emissions, and either hands out, auctions or sells carbon permits to industry sectors. The Center supports the free allocation of carbon allowances in order to keep the cost down. A fee-and-dividend system imposes a fee on the initial sale of a fossil fuel which is then redistributed to the public; the rising cost of carbon-intensive products would, it is hoped, encourage families to keep their carbon footprints low. Again, the cap and trade deniers admit that fee and dividend would use price as a conservation tool. The Center opposes using price as a conservation tool as a matter of organization policy.

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