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For Damage Done and Transition Needed, 50+ Groups Demand Global Fossil Fuel Tax


#1

For Damage Done and Transition Needed, 50+ Groups Demand Global Fossil Fuel Tax

Jessica Corbett, staff writer

"A climate damages tax on the fossil fuel industry is one way to reverse the injustice of climate change, and ensure the fossil fuel industry pays for its damage—not poor people."

Climate activists marched in Bonn, Germany

#2

Not to be overly cynical, but can anyone tell me the last time in this country (with the possible exception of Vietnam, because a close reading of history points to other factors and not protests that turned the tide) that street protests had any influence at all on the decision-makers ultimate decision?

Not that they have no purpose at all. They do allow those who feel wronged to at least vent their frustrations with others publicly and to maintain a (false) sense of hope, and that’s not insignificant. But “demand” all they will, once the oligarchs have made up their minds to embark on a course of action, thy will be done, unfortunately.

(Likewise, for of all the talk of “throwing the bastards out”, how often is that really done in reality? I think people make statements like that in order not to have to face the fact that we, the people are virtually impotent, politically speaking. At some point, however, in order to affect real change, enough of us are going to have to face the situation squarely, as it is and not as we wish it to be.)


#3

The wealthy do not make ideological investments. Their criteria is profit/risk. The 2007 clean energy tipping point was $140/bbl oil and $10/MMBTU natural gas. The profit motive can move $10tn in offshore accounts towards our collective survival.


#4

States have a state tax on fuels to support their infrastructure. Why not a fossil fuel tax with all the funds going to reverse the injustice of climate change? Just imagine, if all the billions of gallons of fossil fuels had even a 10 cents a gallon fossil fuel tax!


#5

And wil these same groups and individuals organize the power to see that a global fossil fuel tax is not passed on to the 99%? If you do not put such a tax into a context of progressive taxation, you are simply increasing the burden on the victims.

As flat rate “sin” taxes show, taxation is not a very good way to achieve positive social policy unless the taxes are distributed upwards and the benefits downwards.

Of course, capitalist corporations should pay for the miseries they have created and are perpetuating, but a flat tax is not the way to do it.

Why do you think the Rethugs in the U.S. (and equivalent parties around the globe) continue to succeed with a single issue campaign of “cut taxes”? It’s because the tax system is designed by capitalists for capitalists.


#6

You’re not being cynical at all. Many of us, including myself, experience what you adequately called “political impotence”. It is systemic and by design, looking at the Patriot Act and the NDAA which were clearly written into law to dismantle/override the US Constitution and in the end leave us, the people, without legal protection and vulnerable to the despotism of our own government.
I participate on websites like these because connecting with like-minded people is more important than ever. I have no illusions, though, that expressing our frustration and pain in our posts will effect major change. The internet is both, a blessing and a curse. Because, while we’re typing data mining is going on. I wish I had the answer how to bring about change. We are dealing with a formidable enemy, and the enemy is in our own house…


#7

This is a good idea.

Possibly a way to fund the General Assembly of the United Nations, or possibly the fight to reclaim our climate and halt and reverse the crash in biodiversity, which the UN is actively pursuing now.

The details are beyond our scope here - but the idea - a more self-sufficient UN, as China and Russia and India rise - is paramount - I think absolutely necessary.


#8

Street protests only work if they involve physically barricading, occupying, obstructing business as usual and do not end the occupation and obstruction until specific demand are met. Such protests, of course, require very large numbers of people are willing to occupy barricades for weeks or month if necessary and are willing to face unemployment, blacklisting, police violence and maybe even violent death.

Recall that all street actions that have produced even minimal (even if ultimately unsatisfactory) results - Labor actions in the late 19th early 20th centuries, Campus occupations in the 1960s, Chicago in 1968 and Seattle in 1999, Tahrir Square and Maiden more recently.

But yes, these Saturday afternoon actions are useless, as I can attest from the scores of them I’ve gone to over the years.

To the barricades!


#9

In order to be taken seriously anytime you make a tax proposal you absolutely need to include an full economic analysis of what you are proposing. Yes externalities is a major cost to society and it needs to be addressed and most likely will with a carbon tax, but demanding a tax without any analysis on marginal cost to society is remarkably ignorant. Getting signatures of people pledging to use fossil fuels less is completely different from people actually willing to pay more for goods in order to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

The lack of tax projection, economic analysis and feasibility reporting on this proposal are the fundamental reasons I would never support this organization or its proclamation.


#10

Daniel Ellsberg gave an interesting interview to Robert Scheer on his podcast recently, and he believes Nixon was contemplating using nuclear weapons seriously and not just trying to yank Kissinger’s chain (he’s on tape saying it, so one of the two is true), and that he didn’t because he was afraid of protests really growing and paralyzing the United States.

I’ve said this before, but to anybody old enough and motivated enough to have protested the Vietnam War - thank you for your service!


#11

We already have a concept called a Carbon Tax. I don’t see the point in changing the name.


#12

FFT and Carbon Tax are very similar, but they tax different parts of the fossil fuel cycle. FFT is a tax on carbon extracted, wheras a carbon tax is a tax on production and thus emissions during production.

Well actually this is kinda an assumption. In the Climate Damages Declaration, extraction is the process that is being taxed, but the organization overall supports financial transactional taxes as well that are not a part of this declaration. Its actually not entirely clear how specifically the tax is measured, what percentage the tax is, and there is no actual analysis of this tax on modern economies, unlike many carbon tax analysis reports that have been made in the past.


#13

So is there an article that says why FFT is better? I’ve read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tax in the past and just skimmed parts of it now- I would still say a Carbon Tax is a tax on carbon extracted. The cost is just passed on down the chain during production of goods - there is no tax on a good by analyzing how much carbon is in it (with the possible exception of import taxes to make the system fair).

So all energy would have tax based on how much carbon is pulled out of the ground - carbon sequestration isn’t going anywhere and was a stupid idea to begin with. Biofuels have their own problems of course, but technically shouldn’t be hit with a carbon tax since their carbon is from the air (except for fossil fuels used in production for which the tax has been paid).


#14

FFT is an entirely made up terminology for this organization’s tax. Carbon tax is much more of an umbrella term that has more economic analysis and effect on reducing emissions. Additionally most carbon taxes I have seen specifically target fossil fuels. It would actually be quite fair and more reasonable (from a logical perspective) to tax all energy sectors as all energy sectors do in fact emit GHGs, but if we were to do this it would detract from investment and profit in alternative energy development.


#15

Are you talking about other GHG than CO2? That will make things tricky as measuring how much methane is leaked from fracking or how much methane is produced raising livestock is an inexact science. Measuring how much carbon comes out of the ground when we extract coal, oil, or natural gas is pretty well understood I would say. And I’m not sure what energy sectors emit any more carbon than they took in as fuel (which has already been accounted for and taxed in a Carbon Tax system).

I’m extremely pro-carbon tax and extremely anti cap and trade. I skimmed https://www.stampoutpoverty.org/about-us/climate-damages-tax-declaration/ and I still don’t see why they don’t refer to the standard term of Carbon Tax and can refer to many links on this topic already.


#16

That comment was more of an overall statement, but yes it does include CO2. Of course a carbon tax is specifically designed more for CO2 emissions. However when looking at emission analysis of energy most of these reports measure lifecycle GHG emissions and then CO2 as a sub-category


#17

The bastards get tossed on their ears all the time. Unfortunatly it is bigger bastards doin the tossin.


#18

How bout using taxes to bring fossil fuels up to their actual cost including subsidies and externalities? In other words, to the $3/gallon gasoline costs at the pump, add $12 in tax.


#19

I think your 2nd paragraph is unfinished. I’m guessing what you were going to say was that they were all massive campaigns. Yes?

But many weren’t, and the same is true of all movements–violent as well as peaceful ones of all types. I’ve read that the North American revolution was supported by about 2% of the population when it started. The resistance caused unconscionable reactions by the British which dragged many more into resistance, both active and supportive. That’s how both kinds of resistance movements work, but especially peaceful. It provokes reaction and lets the true nature of the oppressors show through their propaganda.

The civil rights movement didn’t include huge numbers as activists–African Americans made up 10-12% of the population, and only a small proportion of them and even fewer whites were actively involved. The USSR ended because of actions by a tiny number and eventual support by many.

The people who turned out at the Congressional recess town halls and other places, kayaktivists, anti-pipeline activists, and so many other resistance activities are forming a core around which a huge movement can be built, if, as you say, we can keep people focused and determined beyond the Saturday recreational protest march.