26 December 2010

Economic Solutions to Climate Change — A Boxing Day Round-up

Boxing Day. December 26. The day after Christmas. Day of consumer frenzy. It's as good a time as any to look back on the year and summarize all the great economic solutions we've suggested that no one has implemented — yet. So, grab a vegan eggnog, sit back, and replace those post-Christmas blues with some post-Cancun we-still-haven't-done-a-freaking-thing-about-climate-change blues.

There are lots of common sense ideas for fixing our economic system that no government has had the audacity to take on. For example:
1. Let's end subsidies to fossil fuels and the meat industry. Wham! Huge impact, practically overnight. Every parent and teacher knows ... if you keep rewarding negative, inappropriate behaviour, that behaviour will continue. Let's extinguish the two greatest causes of greenhouse gas emissions by not rewarding them anymore with subsidies.

2. We need to start subsidizing perpetual (renewable minus biofuels [no more burning] = perpetual) energy technologies. Rewarding good behaviour is one way to ensure it continues. (And since governments will be saving billions by no longer subsidizing the oil, gas, coal and livestock industries, why not re-invest that money where it will do some good?) Wham! The very next day, investment in green industries sky rockets!

3. We have got to start taxing carbon. Period. Wham! Overnight change in our relationship to carbon-based fuels and lifestyles. And none of this lily-livered 2¢ per litre of gasoline. A tax on carbon has got to hurt. (Remember, we have to stop rewarding destructive behaviours.)

4. We have to change the corporate charter. Let's just make it illegal (around the globe and across the board, to ensure a level playing field) for companies to externalize social and environmental costs. Period. Wham! Huge difference practically overnight. The law would be simple: Pay social and environmental costs before determining your profits. You'd better believe that shareholders would force companies to pay attention to lessening these costs.

5. Let's outlaw grotesquely, obscenely, insultingly huge incomes. Really, has the world become a better place as the wealth of the top seven richest people in the world has reached around $250 billion? No. As the rich get richer, the future looks bleaker. So, let's threaten to cap incomes and Wham! that would bring back tithing, charity and compassion in a hurry. You know, make them cool again. Bill Gates has made a good start ... but he's not even the richest guy in the world anymore.

6. It's time for a Global Green Fund. All the money we churn into militarism needs to be churned into a global fund for helping the most climate-change-vulnerable nations. After all, we're all in this together (the atmosphere knows no borders), and any coming wars will be climate/water/food security related — and held at bay by financial compassion on the part of those nations who are hit by climate catastrophe last.
Anyway, there's a few talking points for your New Year's Eve party this Friday night. The more we talk about these things, the more we turn them into possibilities!

Talk to you next in 2011. Here's hoping for a new year filled with compassionate climate change solutions!

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?