Economist James K. Boyce explains how to fight climate change and rising income inequality in one shot.
Every day it becomes clearer that we have to break our addiction to extracting dirty stuff from the ground to burn for energy. But how to pull it off without triggering political and economic chaos? Economist James K. Boyce, a senior fellow at the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is the author of a new book exploring that question, The Case for Carbon Dividends. In a conversation with the Institute for New Economic Thinking, he outlines a plan that could not only reduce carbon emissions, but help bridge the gap between the rich and the rest. And it might even survive the political system.
Lynn Parramore: You take it as a given that the key to reducing fossil fuel use is to put a price on carbon emissions. But some say that it won’t really impact climate change or that it will hurt the economy in various ways. How do you respond?
James K. Boyce: A price on carbon emissions is one key piece of the solution. But it can’t be just any price: it has to be anchored to an emissions-reduction trajectory that is consistent with climate objectives, such as the Paris target of limiting the increase in average global temperatures to 1.5-2 °C.