Global carbon tax petition now online

Risks of global warming to be compensated by equal and recurring dividends to everyone

Sometimes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

Those readers who keep track of such things might recall that your editor has been trying to interest a number of organizations in promoting a petition for a global carbon tax.

So far there have been no takers.

So I’ve decided to do it myself.

To recap a bit, climate scientist James Hansen has called for a global carbon tax with the revenue to be given through equal and recurring dividends to everyone.

Hansen is an American whose Congressional testimony in 1988 was one of the first public warnings of the dangers of global warming.

How would such a global carbon tax be brought in?

Well, how do we bring in a new tax in our own local communities? Here in Canada and in other democratic countries it is often done through referendum.

And how would we initiate such a referendum? Here in Canada we usually have to rely on our political leaders, which isn’t likely to happen on a global basis. However, in Switzerland the citizens have the right to bring forward important questions to a nationwide vote through a petition with 100,000 signatures. A good example of this was the recent vote that brought in limitations on corporate executives’ salaries and perks.

How much should the carbon tax rise to? As far as I know, Hansen hasn’t defined that. However, here in British Columbia we have a carbon tax that gradually rose to $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide and that seems to be having some effect..

According to Wikipedia, the world produces about 30 billion tonnes per year of carbon dioxide through the burning of fossil fuels.

A carbon tax of $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide would therefore raise about $900 billion per year.

Assuming there are 5 billion adults (aged 18 and over) in the world, such a tax would result in a social dividend of about $180 per person per year – effectively doubling the annual income of hundreds of millions of people. Such a social dividend would compensate everyone somewhat for the risks that global warming is causing.

The petition has been posted online on Care2, a social network website developed to connect activists from around the world. All readers of the Times are invited to check it out at