Monday, August 6, 2007

G.E Doesn't Own the Sky...

...and neither do the rest of the US-CAP Carbon Cartel.
I checked their 10Q's this weekend.

Back in January Kimberly Strassel, writing at the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal, referred to US-CAP's original corporate members as "10 Jolly Green Giants". Too kind by half. There is nothing jolly about redistributing wealth from the poorest members of society to the corporate elitists.

If these guys were serious, they'd ground their corporate jets and fly commercial. Get into the 90's guys. Video-conference, email, electronic signatures.

If you look at the US-CAP manifesto, it's all about the money. One member, utility PNM generates 64% of their electricity from coal. They've been using our common inheritance, the sky, as their dumping ground because it was cheaper. Now that there are proposals to assign a cost to their use of the commons, US-CAP says "A significant portion of allowances
should be initially distributed free..."

Here's another idea, polluter pays. Auction the permits. If there's any profit to be had, give it to the citizens, not Lehman Brothers.

I'll get out of the way and let you read this from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

...The only way to guarantee significant reductions is to demand significant reductions. And the only effective strategy is to impose a cap on emissions and ratchet down that cap over time.

The advisory group should focus on the mechanics of a cap. To that end we offer three guiding principles.

Make the cap comprehensive.

The law establishes statewide emission-reductions goals but it also allows the advisory group to develop plans for a cap solely on electricity-related emissions. That will not achieve the goals. Statewide reductions will not occur without a statewide cap. Indeed, because of Minnesota's newly enacted renewable electricity mandate, most emission increases will come from outside the electricity sector.

Auction off the carbon allowances and return the revenue as a universal dividend.

A cap sets an emissions limit. That in turn creates an emission value. Who should capture this value? Europe's disastrous initial foray into climate policy taught us what not to do. Carbon allowances were given away to existing polluters. The result? A windfall profit to polluters with no reduction in emissions.

Most jurisdictions are now proposing to auction off emission permits. The revenue from such an auction could be substantial, perhaps $800 million to $1 billion a year in Minnesota alone. What should be done with that revenue?

Here we come to the key question. Who owns the sky? We all do. The biosphere is a commons. We are limiting our collective emissions to levels that do not exceed the biosphere's capacity to absorb and recycle. No individual or business has the right to pollute any more than any other individual or business.

Each person should have an equal share. Ideally we might issue a carbon allowance to each person. Administratively that could prove unmanageable. Therefore, we suggest the following.

Return at least half the annual revenue as a per capita dividend. That is how Alaska distributes revenues from its oil royalties. Such a distribution would make our commitment to the idea of the biosphere as commons manifest. It would also attract widespread political support, and hold low income households harmless from the higher prices of carbon based fuels.

Indeed, the poor may well get back more in dividends than they pay in higher prices. They drive much less. Indeed, a significant number do not own cars. They use less household energy. They don't fly. The goods and services they buy -- clothes, food, medical care, rent -- are not carbon intensive.

Since the sky belongs to all of us, any revenue remaining after the universal dividend is paid should fund universally available services, like libraries or parks or public clinics. Many will lobby to use the revenue for narrowly targeted programs, including financing low-carbon energy programs. We should fight this urge. An ever-more-rigorous carbon cap will inexorably increase the price of carbon fuels, encouraging higher efficiency and low- and non-carbon fuels.

Require fossil fuel suppliers, not consumers, to purchase carbon permits.

Many propose that users of fossil fuels participate in an emissions auction based on carbon dioxide emissions. We recommend that the suppliers of fossil fuels -- coal, natural gas, oil -- purchase allowances based on the carbon content of their fuel. This is far less administratively onerous than forcing thousands and even millions of users of fossil fuels -- car owners, building owners, power plant owners, farmers, factories -- to purchase allowances.

A comprehensive emission cap. A carbon auction for suppliers of carbon fuels. A universal and equal distribution of revenues from that sale. Three keys to an effective and equitable strategy to reduce global warming.

Put that in your chimney and smoke it, US-CAP.