Climate Change Effects of Existing Common Wealth Trust Models

There is considerable interest among scientists and citizens to address climate stability. The role of common wealth funds are likely to be a very important component of effective transitional strategy, from a public support perspective. Most any program faces formidable resistance from industry which has sunk assets. Many people feel we don’t have comfortable margins of time enact meaningful policy. Foremost, a functional declining cap on GHG emissions is essential. A cohesive and pragmatic commitment to redirect commonwealth fund revenue is an absolute priority.

Excerpted from Tom Bowerman:

1. The Alaska Permanent Fund is a direct dividend returned to all citizens of the State of Alaska derived from a rent against oil extraction. Although it generally fits the definition of a guaranteed basic income, in reality it falls short due to sizable annual fluctuations, low of $331 in 1984 to high of $3269 in 2008, $1305 in 2009. The fluctuation is caused by variations in investment returns from the $34 billion fund, which vary dramatically annually; the dividend would be $1300 / year if the find yielded a steady 6% annual return or about 3% of the average annual state income. Economist Scott Goldsmith gives a reasonable overview in: The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend: A case study of implementation of a basic income guarantee (2010). This study suggests two weaknesses for climate stability policy. First is that the oil revenue dividend is expended mainly as conventional consumption, and, second, it creates a citizen demand for more income and hence extraction of fossil fuel to keep the revenue dividend coming. There is no evidence of contribution to climate stability.

2. Since 2012, California’s Cap and Trade program has been collecting dividends on auctioned allowances to emit greenhouse gasses. The California emission cap declines each year so that about 3% fewer allowances are allocated with each passing year – signaling that allocations will become more valuable each year. This simulates large emitters to invest in emission reductions rather than putting it off. Furthermore, this 2015, the annual revenue is expected to exceed $2.5 billion. These funds are dedicated into two broad categories: 25% to ameliorate detrimental impacts on dispossessed low income sectors affected by the policy or climate change, the remainder as state capital investments in renewables, conservation, public transportation, and research to transition California away from climate destabilizing economic activity. The early evidence of this program is that low carbon infrastructure investments are occurring rapidly from both the free market responding as resistance to the cost of emission allowances, and state investments in low carbon infrastructure choices.”

(source, email, August 2015, via Great Transition website)

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