Climate scientist James Hansen has called for a global carbon tax with the revenue given through equal and recurring dividends to everyone. (www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/06/nasa-scientist-climate-change )
Such a tax would be a worthwhile objective but the question is, how do we achieve it. Well, how do we bring in a new tax in our own local communities? Here in Canada 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. ( www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/03/03/swiss-referendum-executive-pay.html )
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 (www.bclocalnews.com/business/160599545.html?c=y&curSection=/&curTitle=BC+Business&bc09=true ). It also is not so high as to encourage widespread cheating and so seems to me to be a good place to start.
Petition for Worldwide Referendum on a Global Carbon Tax
We, the citizens of planet Earth, hereby petition the Secretary-General of the United Nations:
1. Global warming is putting individuals, nations and even civilization itself at risk;
2. Carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels is a principal driver of global warming;
3. A carbon tax offers one of the most cost effective ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions;
4. The province of British Columbia in Canada has had a carbon tax of $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide, which has proven high enough to have an effect but not so high as to encourage widespread cheating;
5. According to Wikipedia, the world produces about 30 billion tonnes per year of carbon dioxide through the burning of fossil fuels;
6. A carbon tax of $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide would therefore raise about $900 billion per year;
7. 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;
8. The equivalent percentage of the world’s population (7 billion) would be a petition with 100 million signatures;
9. Most of the world’s nations set the age at which a person becomes an adult (age of majority) at 18 years and older;
Therefore, be it resolved that:
a. The United Nations organize and supervise a worldwide referendum on a global carbon tax;
b. All adult citizens of planet Earth to have the right to vote in the referendum;
c. The carbon tax to rise over five years to $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels;
d. The proceeds of the carbon tax to be distributed as a citizen’s dividend to all the adult human beings (age 18 years and over) in the world.