Smart guy Marc Lee has produced a short but very valuable analysis of carbon emissions in British Columbia. What he finds is both important and unsurprising: the province’s wealthy are responsible for almost twice as much carbon as the poor.
In fact, the carbon gulf is probably much greater than it appears here. These figures include neither the emissions from airplane travel nor the indirect emissions in imported products, both of which are disproportionately the perquisites of the rich.
Yet there’s good news in the analysis. Because of the way the emissions are distributed, it turns out that carbon price dividend policies—things like “cap and dividend” or, perhaps, BC’s carbon tax—are economically progressive when the revenue is returned to residents on a per capita basis. In other words, if everyone pays a little extra for their carbon, and the funds are equally rebated, virtually everyone would come out ahead financially. (Oh, except for the richest 20 percent.)
Anyhow, good stuff. This is exactly the sort of analysis I’d like to see done in Oregon and Washington. I’d wager we would seen an even larger disparity in the states, owing to the fact that American income inequalities eclipse those of Canada.
Chart comes from a Climate Justice Project report, “By Our Own Emissions” by Marc Lee, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.