In Switzerland, emissions taxes, such as the one on home heating fuel, do two things. They make it more expensive to pollute and they redistribute income – every resident in Switzerland gets an equal share of the tax collected in the form of a deduction from their health insurance premiums.
The redistributive element of this fits well with political ideologies on the left, however, those with different political beliefs sometimes resist emissions taxes because they see them as another left-wing redistributive tax grab.
In the US, an accidentally released document setting out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s plans to combine climate change policy with a universal basic income, drew criticism from right-wing media, according to Business Insider.
If redistribution was left out of this equation, emissions taxes might be more likely to find consensus support across the political spectrum. After all, climate-change-induced extinction, if it happens, won’t spare those with particular political beliefs.
An example of how this might work: let those with oil heating keep the emissions taxes they pay, but only if they spend them on renewable energy heating alternatives for their homes. In addition to garnering broader political support, this would focus the money on the problem. The current system takes money from the pockets of those with oil heated homes, adding to their challenge of finding the money needed to upgrade to an expensive renewable energy heating system.
Does combining climate change and income redistribution thwart consensus on climate change policy? What do you think?