Climate Creativity

An “Untax” on Carbon

I recently stumbled upon a book by energy consultant Steven Stoft called “Carbonomics,” which provides a wonderful overview of various approaches to the intertwined challenges of climate and energy. If you’re looking for a layperson’s intro into these issues (as I certainly was), I’d recommend it.

What most interested me about the book was one of Stoft’s political ideas—something he calls an “untax.” Such a policy would tax carbon, but refund the money collected by the government directly back to the American people each year. There are two main advantages to this. First, it provides a powerful incentive for businesses and individuals to conserve energy and invest in renewable technology. As we saw in 1973 and 1979, major spikes in oil prices do in fact lead to dramatic conservation efforts. Pricing is a powerful tool. By raising carbon prices artificially, we effectively incentivize efficiency and renewable energy innovation. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, an untax avoids the political stigma associated with the very word “tax.” Untax policy, unlike cap and trade or traditional carbon taxes, could have great potential to receive bipartisan political backing.

Under ACES, Congress settled for a cap and trade system, which is also a powerful tool in efficiently addressing carbon emissions. Unfortunately, one problem we have seen is the enormous political influence of big industry in the shaping of the bill. It will be interesting to see how effective this policy is in the coming years.


Peace through Art and Writing Challenge

Speaking at the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice CenterIn May, I was honored as a high school winner in the Peace Through Art and Writing Challenge, held by the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center. My essay, which received second place, examined the relationship between the global environment and world peace. I was very pleased to have the opportunity share it aloud at the winner’s banquet. The winning essays and art (my work included) are posted online here.

Students for Solar Schools: Bringing Solar to Schools Around the Nation

Hi everyone! I’d like to tell you about an amazing initiative started by fellow climate champion Adam Raudonis, called Students for Solar Schools. The program is a coalition of youth who work to promote the installation of solar panels on schools around the nation. Very cool stuff!

Visit Adam’s site

It’s still in the planning stages, but I’m hoping to expand the solar schools project in Rhode Island, as I’ll be at Brown University next year. I’m investigating an initiative called Rhode Island Solar on Schools.