Rindge one of many towns feature petition articles in support of carbon tax

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/2/2020 9:21:09 PM

Petition warrant articles in Rindge, Jaffrey, Wilton and Greenville, along with more than a dozen other New Hampshire towns this year, are asking townspeople if they would support a carbon fee system either federally or locally.

Though the article on local warrants would only be advisory, it asks residents to contact state and federal representatives to back a carbon fee and dividend system, which would charge for the production of carbon pollution and return that money in a dividend fee to people over the age of 18.

Patricia Martin, who submitted the petition article in Rindge, said it’s not as radical a concept as it may sound. 

Martin, a Rindge resident and volunteer for the Citizens Climate Lobby, explained during Rindge’s Deliberative Session in February that there are already 46 countries, including Canada, that have enacted a similar system.

The concept in Canada is still new, with the fee on carbon emissions being put into place at the start of 2019. In Canada, that tax is $20 per ton of carbon in 2019, rising $10 per ton annually through 2020, when it will reach a cap of $50 per ton. 

In Canada, the tax covers Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick. Residents in those four provinces receive a rebate check from the collected carbon tax. 

The idea is to increase the cost of processes that produce carbon emissions to encourage alternate solutions.

According to Martin, carbon cashback programs are proven effective, and if enacted, would reduce emissions  by huge percentages within just 10 years.

The United States attempted to pass a similar resolution several times since 2009, most recently in 2019, with H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend. That bill would have been a starting point for a U.S. carbon tax, imposing a fee on the carbon content of fuel, crude oil, natural gas, coal or products derived from those fuels.

The rate was proposed to be similar to Canada’s structure, starting at $15 per ton in 2019, and increasing by $10 per year, and a fee on fluorinated greenhouse gasses. The fee was proposed to be re-assessed only if emissions hit reduction targets. 

The Senate also introduced a similar bill in 2019, proposing a carbon fee starting at $15 per ton of CO2-equivalent, but it would increase by $15 per year, instead of $10, and the revenue was proposed to be split between dividends and other projects, such as infrastructure and research and development. 

Carbon taxes such as Canada’s or the one proposed in the U.S. in 2019 are expected to cause cost increases in carbon-intensive products, such as fuel. However, Canada estimated that eight out of ten families would get more back in their dividend check than they would spend covering those extra expenses.

The Citizens Climate Lobby has scheduled a discussion on carbon tax and dividends to be held on March 7 from 10 to noon at the Rindge Recreation Department, for those interested in learning more about how such programs work. Light refreshments will be served.

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