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Climate Changing

By Dano T Bob - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, December 12, 2015

Ye ole UN Climate talks in Paris are now under way. Amid attempts by the French government to shutdown demonstration aimed at forcing those meeting to actually do something real to combat the serious global threat of climate change, there are still activists around the globe making their voices heard. Springing off from last year’s successful Climate March in New York City during the unfruitful UN talks there, this year has already seen the Northern California Climate Mobilization in Oakland, California, and today’s NYC Climate rally and the forthcoming Los Angeles Climate rally, as well as many others from around the globe.

So, will government representatives from various world countries come to an agreement to cap emission, and if so, will it matter and will they actually, really cap emissions, unlike previous failed, unenforced agreements? And what would a model for a successful way to deal with climate change and carbon emissions look like and how would it be implemented? Surprise! I’ve got some opinions on this.

One model that differs from the current approach that has promise is a global Carbon Tax. Publications as diverse as Jacobin and the Economist have both endorsed the idea. Ways to do a Carbon Tax vary, with Suresh Naidu arguing in Jacobin, “But if we were mobilizing around just one demand today, we could do worse than a global carbon tax, with revenues redistributed directly back to people through a global universal basic income.” They key also for the author is an international approach (although great U.S. based work on this is taking place as well, which we will address in a bit), and the UN talks present just such an opportunity. The Economist authors substitute a Green Climate Fund for the more radical Universal Basic Income idea, stating, “A carbon tax, collected by individual countries, looks a far more effective tool. Countries could be required to impose the common price as long as all others do too, and domestic revenues from the tax could be recycled internally. Transfers to developing or reluctant countries, such as through the Green Climate Fund, could be set up to address concerns about fairness.”

Another thing currently not being considered in the Paris meetings is the Carbon Budget. This idea hinges on the fact that, “if you add up all the targets and pledges made by 146 countries at the UN Climate talks in Paris, the world is on track to burn its carbon budget — the amount of carbon dioxide it can emit while restricting global warming to a ‘safe’ two degrees — in the next 25 years.” So, for all the promised pledges of emission cuts, enforceable or not, are we doing enough? This answer is a resounding "NO!" and this is serious problem. So, not only do we as concerned humans need to be clamoring for something like a Carbon Tax, but it must hit the proper targets based on the Climate Budget and we must make our governments comprehend and understand this fact and agree to factor this in at climate talks.

So, while a global Carbon Tax is needed, which even the likes of the Wall Street Journal editorial page have toyed with, what are the prospects here in the US of getting one passed in the meantime? While countries in Africa, Asia and Europe have already implemented such measures, it has been much harder here at home in the belly of the global capitalist energy corporation beast. But, there is hope. Even places with traditional oil extraction economies, such as Alberta, Canada are pushing ahead with a strengthened Carbon Tax.

There are some groups in the US doing great work on this as well that you can support, such as the Citizens Climate Lobby. With chapters across the US, including the Bay Area, New York and West Virginia, CCL is mostly focused on lobbying Congress, which although is pretty much a lost cause now, could sow seeds for good work in the future. Wanna contact your Congress People about support for a Carbon Tax? Do it here. Also, consider supporting candidates in the upcoming presidential election that have come out for a Carbon Tax, like Senator Bernie Sanders.

So, regardless of how much the French government fights to suppress activists at the UN Climate Talks, good ideas cannot be stopped. So, let’s make sure these talks produce something legit and aren’t just for show before it is too late. And discussion around a global Carbon Tax with targets that meet our current Climate Budget are a good start.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

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