The Northwest is lagging most in the area of energy use, according to Sightline’s Cascadia Scorecard energy indicator.  In this short podcast, Sightline Research Director Clark Williams-Derry explains how putting a price on carbon will help us reduce energy consumption. By unhitching our economy from the fossil fuel roller coaster, we can create jobs in local communities, clean the air, and boost our economy.

Clark Williams-DerryDownload the podcast (five-minute mp3)

Special thanks to Bruce Bulloch for graciously donating his time and ideas to make the podcast.

Podcast excerpts:

On price incentives and taxes:

  • “Right now, we have a tax system where we tax things we like. We tax income, people like income…These things have repercussions…the tax system is the DNA of the economy, silently guiding our choices…the pricing of different commodities carries a signal of how much you should be consuming. Once you realize the tax system is underlying how we organize our lives or how we organize our economy, it makes sense to say ‘Let’s not tax blindly; let’s tax the things we want less of.”

On making pricing equitable:

  • “To create a constant and consistent incentive for people to use less energy, you can do that in a way that’s revenue neutral—taking taxes off of some things, and put taxes on to the things you want less of. Take a tax off of income and put a tax on energy. Now when you create that kind of system, you have to be very careful you’re not creating economic inequities. Energy spending for lower income folks is a pretty big share of their income…when you’re doing this, you have to get the equity questions right.”

Why to auction permits:

  • “The old idea was to give out carbon permits for free. But when economists started looking at it, is that it would really hurt working families—it’s not fair to the little guy. Instead, auctioning off permits, so big companies have to pay for permits, then you have a pot of revenue you can use to cushion the impacts to working families. It’s really catching on in a lot of different ways.”

See also:

July 8, 2009