Petition for a referendum on a global carbon tax

  • by: Keith McNeill
  • recipient: Secretary-general of the United Nations

Climate scientist James Hansen has called for a global carbon tax with the revenue given through equal and recurring dividends to everyone. ( )


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. ( )


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 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.


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