Global Greens should work on worldwide carbon tax

A moderate tax on the burning of fossil fuels worldwide would be a good place to start

Why won’t Elizabeth May answer my emails?

On April 5 and April 18 I sent emails to the leader of the Green Party of Canada suggesting that her party and the Global Greens (the international association of national Green parties) organize a petition calling for a worldwide referendum on a global carbon tax.

So far I have received no reply.

In my emails I pointed out that James Hansen called for a global carbon tax about one year ago. Revenue from the tax would be given through equal and recurring dividends to everyone. Hansen is an American climate scientist whose Congressional testimony in 1988 was one of the first public warnings of the dangers of global warming.

In many parts of the world, new taxes are often brought in through referendum.

How would we initiate such a referendum? The citizens of Switzerland (population 8 million) have the right to force an issue to a nationwide referendum with a petition of 100,000 signatures (a good example of this was the recent vote in Switzerland that brought in limitations on corporate executives’ salaries and perks). The equivalent percentage of the world’s population (7 billion) would be a petition with 100 million signatures.

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. It also is not so high as to encourage widespread cheating.

According to Wikipedia, the world produces about 20 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 $600 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 $120 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.

Why hasn’t May replied to my emails? When I asked a prominent Green Party member from Kamloops that question, he encouraged me to try again. He also said, though, that in his opinion the time was not yet right for a global carbon tax.

He’s correct that this isn’t the right time for it. Twenty years ago might have been the right time. Today is almost certainly too late to avoid some of the more serious effects of global warming. It might not be too late to avoid a general system collapse, the end of civilization, and the possible extinction of the human race, however.


A moderate tax on the burning of fossil fuels worldwide would be a good place to start.