Voluntary Carbon Tax

Situation:

  1. We are requesting proposals from members of the class regarding other potential projects to support.
  2. Donations to the fund may be made in class or online.

Please calculate your own carbon footprint with this calculator!   Let us know how you are doing in the comments box below!

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For the full story, see our Earth Deeds Project Page.

Discussion Points:

  1. The Mt. Toby Friends Quaker Meeting House has created a voluntary tax to offset partially their use of fossil fuel and generation of carbon dioxide
  2. This commitment raises money for environmental projects but perhaps just as important it raises consciousness and awareness
  3. This process allows them to set their own “tax” rate
  4. There are several ways to manage this tax:
  5. We also discussed taxing something “big” like food miles for food served at UMass
  6. There are bigger issues relating to the impact of human behavior that go way beyond carbon dioxide pollution

We agreed to:

  • Investigate the Mt. Toby story
  • Contact Daniel Greenberg about Earth Deeds
  • Explore a relationship with religious and spiritual groups through the Pioneer Valley Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice
  • Ask our friends at UMass Dining if they are interested

Please post additional comments and questions below!

Carbon Consciousness Investment:

We raised a total of $336 to be invested in local projects which would make the world a little better and voted to distribute the funds as follows:

  1. 10% for Earth Deeds for managing the project
  2. Hunger Banquet = $130
  3. Grow Food Amherst = $115
  4. Abundance Farm = $57.40 (plus $71 raised from the Food & Spirit event = $128.40)
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  1. I have a personal opinion on the three options listed above.
    1. Carbon Fund – I have used this organization to offset the carbon costs of my household, auto and air travel. I trust this group although I suspect the amount of my money that goes into administration is higher than the other two. My major objection is that the investment in environmental projects is “somewhere far away” and not in my community.

    2. Voluntary Tax like the Mt. Toby group – I like this a lot as you have complete control over the tax and where the money goes. I’m uncomfortable managing the money ourselves and would prefer to have someone professional keep track of the funds.

    3. Earth Deeds – this organization is managed by Daniel Greenberg who spoke to our group recently. I trust him. He keeps 15% of the money handled and helps with managing and marketing. Also, we would control where the money is invested and can target something local.

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  2. I found another resource. The following is a list of activities that several faith groups in the Pioneer Valley are doing: http://justiceandpeace.net/PioneerValleyCares/?page_id=131

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  3. Nathaly Figueroa

    I found a small class that has beta-tested Earth Deeds for a voluntary carbon tax and donated to eco-reps program: http://www.umass.edu/sustainability/umass-amherst-sustainable-living-class-becomes-carbon-conscious

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  4. A rough estimate of the carbon footprint for students in our class can be taken from the UMass Climate Action Plan (http://www.umass.edu/fp/ClimateActionPlan.pdf). This suggests that each person on campus accounts for about 4.2 metric tons of carbon released into the atmosphere, mostly from burning of fossil fuels for heat and electricity.

    If we use the EPA figure on the Social Cost of Carbon ($39/mT), we each would have a carbon cost of (4.2 x 39) or $163.80 for the year. If a student was taking 32 credits over two semesters, this would turn out to be about $5 for our one credit class. Community members would have the additional carbon cost of transportation to the class.

    We might consider investing an amount of money equal or greater than our carbon cost for the class to a fund as a Voluntary Carbon Tax of ourselves, similar to what is being done by the Mt. Toby Friends Meeting House. This money could be managed by Earth Deeds and donated to a project of our own choosing.

    We might also take a look at ways we can reduce our carbon foot print by changing small things in our daily life. To measure how much you can reduce see:
    http://earthdeeds.org/reduce.php

    What do you think?

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  5. Nathalie (Lee) Bridegam

    I have been in attendance at 2 presentations by members of Mt. Toby Friends discussing their personal carbon tax project. They were at the forefront in this area as they took action to demonstrate their concern.

    However, I would be more interested in engaging in the state effort to endorse creation of a carbon tax and rebate agenda, variations of such programs have been highly successful in British Columbia, Ireland, and other countries. There is an increased interest among both business owners and government officials to craft state regulations. A number of groups in MA are working toward this goal including Mothers Out Front, Citizens Climate Lobby, and Amherst’s own Solomon Goldstein-Rose who is the regional coordinator for the Carbon Tax and Rebate Campaign in western MA. This would be a way of educating those who are not already supporters and could have a major impact on dramatically reducing carbon emissions.

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  6. I fully agree that we must take these efforts to a larger scale. It seems to me that small actions (like a commitment of our class) is an important step toward creating the political will to do more at the state level.

    Thanks for the reminder of the groups that are doing this important political work.

    John

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  7. Yes! I resonate with the ideas that small things can grow larger, and that the right place for me to start is with my own personal commitment. If I *commit* to it and DO something, and then WE collectively create the small amount of political will needed within the class to pursue a common action with integrity for the common good, that might in turn lead to another step beyond that one 🙂

    How about doing three things — kind of a synthesis of the plans suggested by John, Nathaly and Lee in the comments above from Feb 20-26th.:

    1. we calculate our class’s contribution to the overall UMass Scope I and Scope II emissions, costing it out based on the EPA rate as John suggests and pro-rating for 1 college credit out of 32 average that most people are taking per year; we invite people in the class to contribute this money collectively.

    2. using the Earth Deeds calculator, we invite people in the class to come up with an estimate of their personal annual travel emissions, which they can cost out in a similar way using the EPA $39/ton rate, and can add to the joint class amount in point 1 above. Once we gather the money, we choose two or three local projects / funds to split the money between (including, hopefully, at least one or more other projects from this class).

    3. and having followed through, a small group can plan and implement some kind of Earth Day educational campaign (partnering with Solomon Goldstein-Rose? a local congregation?) around the Carbon Tax and Rebate efforts in western MA.

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  8. Thanks Craig…. I would add that we might first explore the concept of the Social Cost of Carbon and how it differs from carbon offsetting. Love this idea!

    John

    Like

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