Thursday, February 07, 2019

The Green New Deal

The Green New Deal (text here) looks whacked -- of course we won't get to a carbon-free society in 10 years -- and surely the authors of the proposal know that. But I think what they have in mind is putting a stake in the ground -- stating what's really needed to stop climate change -- so that later piddly proposals can be compared to it.

But I wish it was only about carbon without the social welfare proposals, such as

(G) ensuring that the Green New Deal mobilization creates high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages....
(H) guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States;....

(I) strengthening and protecting the right of all workers to organize, unionize, and collectively bargain free of coercion, intimidation, and harassment;....

(O) providing all people of the United States with
        (i) high-quality health care;
        (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing;
        (iii) economic security; and access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.
You may or may not think these are worthy aspirations, but such social engineering proposals are exactly what turns off some of the (rational) opponents of action on climate change. And I can't say I blame them. If Republicans came forth with comprehensive climate/energy legislation that also included banning abortions, ensuring nationwide right-to-work laws, and (still more) tax breaks for the wealthy, I'd oppose it no matter what the climate section proposed. I don't understand why AOC and the 37 other sponsoring Democratic representatives don't see that.

Judith Curry has some thoughts on her Congressional testimony on Wednesday, and they're worth reading in full. She ends with this:
No-regrets, win-win solutions seem politically palatable to the Republicans; it remains to be seen if Democrats will make incremental no-regrets policies such as proposed here the enemy of their grandiose ideas such as Green New Deal.
I think that's a wise statement.


William M. Connolley said...

> If Republicans came forth with comprehensive climate/energy legislation that also included banning abortions...

Yup, exactly.

Layzej said...

I agree 100%, but it's may not be a horrible strategy to start with a left wing proposal and settle on something in between. The strategy in the past has been to start with a right wing proposal (carbon markets) which leaves Republicans with no where to go but far right of looneyville.

There is no reasonable middle ground between a Republican solution and "global warming is a Chinese hoax".

I'd rather they propose a Revenue neutral carbon tax where dividends are distributed evenly between every citizen. That still gives republicans room to negotiate towards the right.

David in Cal said...

From a selfish POV, a revenue-neutral carbon tax would be great for me. The higher cost of gasoline would drive poor people off the highways so I would have less traffic to contend with. And, bigger tax-payers like me would get the benefit of the tax cuts. OTOH poor people pay little or no income tax, so they'd get no benefit from the revenue neutral feature.

Layzej said...

Depends how the dividend is distributed.

David Appell said...

I think a carbon tax-and-dividend would be a really popular thing. The poor would get back more than they were taxed, and the day the checks came in would be like Christmas, like the day Alaskans get their Permanent Oil Fund payments or Oregonians get their kicker refund*.

* Oregon has a dumb law -- passed by referendum -- that when any state revenue for the biennium exceeds the forecast revenue by at least two percent, that amount should be "kicked" back to taxpayers, in proportion to the tax they paid. It means the state can't save for a rainy day. Like a sales tax, it's something Oregonians would never vote out.

Layzej said...

I dunno. Maybe they're on to something. Over at ATTP, contrarian T. Fuller finds little to disagree with in the GND:

thomaswfuller2 says:
February 8, 2019 at 10:45 pm
Here is a summary of the Green New Deal with my comments. Hopefully JeffN and others can add their own.

Commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions within ten years. (Not physically possible.)

Provide “millions” of good, high-wage jobs. (I support this and note that we have been moving forcefully in this direction since about 2012.)

Repair and upgrade US infrastructure (I support this with the caveat that I don’t want any of Trump’s public/private partnership scams.)

Provide everyone with access to clean air and clean water. (Support this but think the numbers affected are so low that it is a) easy to do and b) all about Flint.)

Repair historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth. (I support this, but wonder at mechanisms and timelines.)

Protect against extreme weather events (I support this–adaptation works.)

Eliminate pollution and greenhouse gases “as much as technologically feasible” (I support this whole heartedly. Good luck finding consensus on the word ‘feasible.’)

Meet 100 percent of power demand via renewable and zero-emission sources (Not possible, probably not desireable and heavily dependent on what is considered renewable and zero-emissions. If nuclear qualifies then there is a chance…)

Upgrade to smart grids (Agree whole heartedly).

Upgrade all existing buildings for maximum energy efficiency (Agree half-heartedly. Better to roll out EE in buildings in stages, taking into account life cycle of wood frame and concrete buildings.)

Invest in public transit and high-speed rail (I agree whole heartedly.)

Mitigate the long-term health effects of pollution and climate change (I agree in principle, but think climate change is difficult to mitigate against at a national level.)

Restore fragile ecosystems (Agree 100%)

Clean up hazardous waste sites (Agree 100%)

Provide higher education to all (I would reword to say make it available to all…)

Invest in R&D of new energy technologies (Agree 100%)

Build wealth, community ownership, and good jobs in marginalized communities (Great–but how?)

Create union jobs that pay prevailing wages (Agree 100%)

Guarantee living wage to everyone (Agree 100%)

Guarantee family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to everyone (Agree 100%)

Improve union bargaining strength (Agree 100%)

Strengthen labor and workplace safety standards (Agree 100%)

Enact trade rules that increase jobs but don’t transfer pollution overseas (Agree 100%)

Reform the use of eminent domain (Agree 100%)

Ensure that all business are free from unfair competition (Define unfair. I don’t agree with this.)

Provide all people of the United States with high-quality health care (Agree 100%)

Provide all people of the United States with good housing (Agree 100%)

Provide all people of the United States with economic security (Agree in principle–I think that economic security is more or less a mirage)

Provide all people of the United States with healthy and affordable food (Agree 100%)

Provide all people of the United States with access to nature (Agree 100%)

David Appell said...

David, if there was a carbon tax-and-dividend, where all households get the same money back (that'd be negative for high earners), there would probably be MORE traffic on the road, because the poor have some extra money to spend so their traffic could increase, the middle won't get or lose much of their income, and the rich will lose thousands but will drive anyway.

David in Cal said...

David and Layzej - one must consider how big the carbon tax would need to be. That is, we already have tax on our carbon-based fuel. So, presumably we're talking about a much larger tax. E.g., how much extra tax would you envision on a gallon of gasoline? $1? $10? If you don't know a figure, can you state how that right figure would be determined?

I do agree that a large carbon tax along with equal payments back to all Americans might be popular with a majority of voters. We all like getting checks in the mail.

Layzej said...

BC has a revenue neutral carbon tax. It's currently at $35 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions and will rise $5 yearly to $50 per tonne in April 2021.

$35 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions works out to 7.78 ¢/litre of gasoline.

David Appell said...

$300/t CO2eq

David Appell said...

David, while the poor don't pay income taxes, they pay lots of other taxes.

This is from 2011. It shows the US tax system is not that progressive at all. See the second bar chart:

“America’s Tax System is Not as Progressive as You Think”
Citizens for Tax Justice, April 2011

Taxes of 16.2% on the lowest 20% of income are much more difficult to deal with than 30% on the top 1%.

Oregon's state tax is actually REgressive:

William M. Connolley said...

> thomaswfuller2 says:

At last; something to disagree about with Fuller.

> the US tax system is not that progressive

I think even that doc shows it is; just less than you think. And that's only the taxes; it doesn't include subsidies.