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Avert the US Fiscal Cliff and address runaway climate change

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Avert the US Fiscal Cliff and address runaway climate change


Why this is important

The US Congress is paralyzed by the Fiscal Cliff debate. It needs a novel solution that will allow both Republicans and Democrats to save face. That solution is to impose a tax on carbon. It could raise one trillion dollars and reduce the burden on Republicans to significantly raise taxes and on Democrats to cut social programs. It also has the potential to fundamentally affect carbon emissions, as was seen in Ireland.

We want the media to ask the president this question:

Background: Mr Gregory at NBC's Meet the Press (for example):

Mr President: Is there any chance of a "game-changer," something novel, that would break the log jam in Congress, like a carbon tax? It has been estimated that one trillion dollars could be raised and it would have the additional affect of addressing one of the priorities of your second term; namely climate change.


By Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times, Dec. 27, 2012
Over the last three years, with its economy in tatters, Ireland embraced a novel strategy to help reduce its staggering deficit: charging households and businesses for the environmental damage they cause.

The government imposed taxes on most of the fossil fuels used by homes, offices, vehicles and farms, based on each fuel’s carbon dioxide emissions, a move that immediately drove up prices for oil, natural gas and kerosene. Household trash is weighed at the curb, and residents are billed for anything that is not being recycled. The Irish now pay purchase taxes on new cars and yearly registration fees that rise steeply in proportion to the vehicle’s emissions.

Environmentally and economically, the new taxes have delivered results. Long one of Europe’s highest per-capita producers of greenhouse gases, with levels nearing those of the United States, Ireland has seen its emissions drop more than 15% since 2008.

Although much of that decline can be attributed to a recession, changes in behavior also played a major role, experts say, noting that the country’s emissions dropped 6.7 percent in 2011 even as the economy grew slightly.

“We are not saints like those Scandinavians — we were lapping up fossil fuels, buying bigger cars and homes, very American,” said Eamon Ryan, who was Ireland’s energy minister from 2007 to 2011. “We just set up a price signal that raised significant revenue and changed behavior. Now, we’re smashing through the environmental targets we set for ourselves.”

Posted December 29, 2012
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