I am leaning toward a "Yes" vote on WA Carbon Tax Ballot Initiative, I-732, this November. I-732 is not perfect but it will reduce WA state greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. It will be the largest carbon tax ($25 per CO2 ton by 2018) in the nation. It is administratively simple and thus, is less vulnerable to future "administrative discretion" to dampen its benefits. It is very close to revenue neutral and the WA legislature can tweek the carbon tax if revenues drift from that target over time. It compensates all citizens with a 1% sales tax reduction and low-income persons with a Working Families Tax Credit. Most low-income individuals will have a net income gain. It eliminates the Business & Occupation Tax to compensate businesses for their increased fuel costs. It is politically more palatable to conservatives by returning the carbon tax revenues to citizens and businesses and thus, not expanding government to fund clean energy or worker retraining; those goals are important but not all can be accomplished with one initiative. Sightline Institute has proposed a complementary Green Stamps program, to be approved by the WA state legislature or by ballot initiative; green stamps would be state coupons distributed to low-income families that they could use to purchase qualifying clean energy solutions (e.g. transit passes, energy efficiency measures, bicycles, healthy local food, etc.). We need many more actions at a personal, state, national and international level to solve climate change. Personally, we need incentives and commitment to use energy more efficiently and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. In states and nationally, we must address a "Just Transition", including employment, income, purchasing power, gender equity, etc. Globally, we need to support: clean energy in developing countries, access to healthy food and water, climate refugee assistance, etc. I-732 is only one of many needed solutions; it allows Washington state to lead by example and to move forward on further ways to address climate change and economic injustice.
As a planet, we're living beyond our means. Our global population and levels of consumption are exceeding the carrying capacity of our Earth. The result is economic recession, worsening income inequality, resource depletion, environmental pollution, climate change and ocean death. Yet, for most economists and politicians, the solution is more economic growth. Richard Heinberg of the Post-Carbon Institute says that we need "... our leaders to publicly acknowledge that a prolonged shrinkage of the economy is a done deal. From that initial recognition might follow a train of possible strategies, including planned population decline, economic localization, the formation of cooperatives to replace corporations, and the abandonment of consumerism. Global efforts at resource conservation and climate mitigation could avert pointless wars." We don't need a GOP presidential candidate who calls climate change a hoax, who doubles down on fossil fuel extraction and who is an object of derision globally for his ludicrous claims. At least the Democratic candidate accepts climate change and will work with other world leaders to limit its effects. As Heinberg says, we really need a leader "... more in the mold of Winston Churchill, who famously promised only 'blood, toil, tears, and sweat' in enlisting his people in a great, protracted struggle in which all would be called upon to work tirelessly and set aside personal wants and expectations." We need bold leaders that will transition us to a sustainable steady-state economy.