October 10, 2016

Open Letter from Leading Climate Scientists Support the I-732 Carbon Tax Swap

An extraordinary letter (see below or here) from over fifty University of Washington climate scientists expresses strong support for Washington State Initiative 732, which calls for a revenue-neutral carbon tax swap.   These scientists include world experts on climate change, including several members of the U.S  National Academy of Sciences.  No one understands better the implications of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and the need for immediate action to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

As noted in the scientists' letter, I-732 would tax carbon emissions and return all of the receipts to taxpayers, thus making it revenue neutral.    The sales tax would drop by a full percent, the B&O tax on manufactures would be eliminated, and the several hundred thousand low-income families would receive a tax rebate.  Thus, I-732 would make Washington State's tax system less regressive (it is the worst in the nation right now).

Economists believe that a carbon tax is one of the most effective approaches for reducing carbon emissions and has been highly successful in British Columbia.  In fact a long list of economists have expressed support of the initiative.  I-732 has bipartisan support and could be an example to the nation (see recent articles in USA Today  and the Christian Science Monitor).

Our leading scientists and economists believe there is a compelling case for I-732, so please consider it seriously when you go into the voting booth in November.  As  the climate scientists note, we are running out of time for dealing with the threat of increasing greenhouse gases.



  1. Unknown,
    You need to read the initiative. You may pay more for gas, but YOU WILL PAY LESS FOR EVERYTHING ELSE, since the sales tax will drop by a full percentage point. Boeing pays less B&O tax but they use a huge about of energy for their operations and will be paying more because of the carbon tax. And this makes our tax system for less regressive. It is hard to imagine a more beneficial program...cliff

  2. "Hoax!!". .. Just pointing to the ease with which the whole idea, and problem is "dismissed" here Professor. .. Its being, in certain respects certainly, a bigger problem than the one, fairly obviously, more .. actually pending.

  3. An increase in gas price would be a benefit to my way of thinking. I guess critics want their cake, etc.

  4. Cliff,
    Please explain why the climate models have been wrong for the last 10 to 20 years, and why they should be trusted going forward when used as a basis for initiatives like I-732.

  5. Dr. Mass - I know there's still a ton of uncertainty, but any early thoughts on the active weather we could be looking at later this week? Anything to suggest this series of storms may merit more attention than average?

  6. Please stick to weather and stay away from economics. You will not "PAY LESS FOR EVERYTHING ELSE." Goods just don't magically appear at the grocery store, they need to be trucked in, and the price of fuel to power that truck is going to go up. The cost to power the production facility is going to go up. You can bet that the cost of things like food delivery and uber rides is going to go up.

    And guess what, food isn't subject to sales tax. So that 1% break in the sales tax isn't going to offset the cost to deliver things like bread, eggs, etc.

    Everything has a consequence. You can't just raise the costs on business and expect them to hold their prices. They will be passed onto the consumer.

  7. Steps should be taken to clean up the future..

    This is one.

    Fossil fuels should cost 10x what they do. Coal shouldn't even be available. The damage it does is 2nd only to the profits they create for a tiny group. Unfortunately this tiny group also makes all the rules.

    The tax likely won't pass because the corps don't want it to.

    Unfortunate that even the people can't agree that fossil fuel emissions are bad for us.

  8. Also I should say, obviously I don't have the alternative, or even know of one. Nor do want to pay 10x for fuel. But, I do believe that big biz is controlling the development for their profit margins. I think taxes like this could help make alternatives more profitable. Which would hopefully lead to their development.

    We need to kick this habit. .

    If the us was able to find alternatives to fossil fuels and implement them. We would put ourselves in an excellent position for the future. China is literally killing themselves with coal, we're doing the same with oil. It's crazy.

  9. Chris Mc - if you really believe that, then you should be first in line to pay the poorest among us for their ruinously costs for energy. Time to suck it up and put your money where your mouth is, pardner. No excuses or further bloviations, dig into that wallet and pay the piper. Anything less from you is just more farting in the wind.

  10. Still trying to figure out how this is going to change driving habits in Washington State! I for one have ZERO desire to take mass transit to work simply because gas goes up a quarter or even two dollars a gallon. I enjoy my car and the freedom it gives me. People will still drive, still emit, and no one in there right mind can believe this one initiative will somehow drop global CO2 levels in a way that would reverse climate change. Do all these scientists and PhD's really believe it would or are they simply protecting their jobs???

    As a small business owner, if my costs go up, so do my prices! That is how I stay in business and keep profitable. Commerce across the state will do the same if the cost of energy and goods transport goes up. I appreciate low prices for things like airfare and items I buy at Costco and the grocery store.

    The motive may be good but the small scale and total ineffectiveness of I-732 is flawed!

  11. Again, people who buy the idea that "government" can legislate the climate. Stop mother nature. It is quite comical after while. Breathing apparently causing harm. Oh, the logic.

  12. It's all just virtue signalling. Washington State has the second cleanest electricity sector in the nation so it's nonsensical that we (or anyone else for that matter) need to be "setting an example" for the rest of the country. Global warming theory as embodied in the climate models is primitive. Let's get the politics and name-calling out of climate science first and see where some unpolluted science takes us over the next 20 years. Then reassess. In the meantime we should all read Alex Epstein and learn to appreciate the spectacular benefits humanity has derived from our cheap & plentiful fossil fuels.

  13. The latest National Geographic has an awesome article on pollution being a global issue. Matter of fact here in Washington we are primarily choking on China's emissions.

    Consider why the west (North America and Europe) consumed so much from the unregulated factories of China....

    Lower cost yes?

    I propose I732 will increase global carbon emissions! Increasing manufacturing costs of regulated manufacturers in a free trade economy will have consumers buying more from unregulated lower cost sources. (This is what has happened the last 20 + years)

    So if you want to curb carbon emissions, tariff and tax the biggest carbon emitters in each industry category. Encourage consumers with financial incentive to buy from regulated manufacturers that invest in technology to reduce emissions.

    Tarrifs against unregulated polluters is the way to start reducing carbon emissions on a global scale. (Plus it would be good for N. American and European companies and jobs.).

    No on I732.. No more tax on the working class living paycheck to paycheck!!

    Tax the 10℅ and let the working class buy electric cars and solar panels with the money. (Of course only cars and panels manufactured in regulated low pollution factories, and preferably those that provide jobs here in Washington!)

  14. My problem here is that this seems to fail the "What if it works?" test.

    We add a tax to carbon generating activity. To encourage a behavior change to conduct less of the carbon generating activity.

    To make this revenue neutral (and hence perhaps acceptable to voters) we cut the sales tax rate by about the same amount that the carbon tax is expected to generate.

    Ok, let's assume it works and carbon usage goes down. And the revenue from the tax that was coming in?

    Three choices:
    1) The state gets to live with less money.
    2) The carbon tax has to go up in terms of $$$ per bad thing.
    3) The old taxes have to come back.
    Or 4) This ends like the sin taxes on smoking and the state becomes addicted to the revenue and is careful to not loose it's revenue stream.

    It's my belief that sin taxes that other than sin reduction are destined to fail.

  15. "It is quite comical after while. Breathing apparently causing harm. Oh, the logic."

    The degree of ignorance displayed in that comment would be comical if it wasn't so dangerous.

    You may want to consider reading about the carbon cycle, and balances between the sources and sinks of carbon, before thinking that you understand this subject better than the people who actually study it for a living.

  16. Like it or not, climate science is real. Dangerous to risk thinking that you know better. A human-warming world is a catastrophic place for our children and their children. This initiative is a chance to take real action against climate change now. It will make sustainable energy more cost effective, reduce carbon emissions, and actively help reduce global warming, now. Before it's too late. Businesses will feel pressure to minimize price these increases to stay competitive which push them to limit emissions. Holding out for something better, which may never come, is a misguided move.

  17. To change the subject, we've got three storms pointed at us, arriving Wed night through Saturday.

    The strongest storm, arriving Saturday, will be the remnant of super-typhoon Songda. That doesn't sound good.

    Would love to hear Cliff's comments on what's coming.

  18. Eric Blair , why would anyone stand in a line to pay someone elses energy/ fuel bills? If you can't aford to operate a car, ride (hopefully improved) mass transit.

    Less cars less traffic less roads less taxes(haha)?

    More trains more busses more bikes and more walking..

    Our kids kids may be able to breathe air without a filter (super longshot, but atleast we didn't do it to ourselves)

  19. Cliff your last paragraph is incorrect and misleading. It should say "some scientists" and not "our leading scientists." You errantly portray a connection between a subjective group of scientific "leaders." That is an appeal to authority and a logical fallacy. The fact remains that other scientists flatly disagree with CAGW theory.

  20. Anthropogenic climate change is anything but "settled science." This video sums it up nicely:


  21. Cliff,

    Anthropogenic climate change is anything but "settled science."

    This video explains nicely:


    Dr. O

  22. Thanks for your opinion on this important issue, Cliff. I appreciate the time you put into it. I would encourage you to post a follow-up article on this topic that address more of the naysayers concerns as well.

  23. If I-732 passes how much will it reduce global temperatures?

  24. Roy posed a pertinent question. What is the forecast global temperature reduction from I-732 from your climate model? A rough guess can be calculated from the projected CO2 abatement from I-732. There has been a 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures during the industrial era during which 1 trillion metric tonnes of CO2 have been emitted. Divide the tonnes of CO2 abatement from I-732 by 1 trillion and you have the global temperature reduction.

  25. Thank you Cliff Mass -- and to 50 UW professors endorsing i-732 and countless volunteers who have worked tirelessly to get i-732 on the ballot. The atmosphere can't wait another 4 years. I'm voting "yes" so my children and their children can inherit a habitable planet.

  26. The letter and list of signatories are illegible when I view them on my mobile phone. Can you provide an HTML version?


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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