This is an extract from a piece written by John Bellamy Foster and published at Monthly Review
The primary efforts of radical climate activists in the present historical conjuncture have focused on blocking coal and unconventional fossil fuels, such as oil sands, tight oil, shale gas, oil shale, and oil from ultra-deep-sea wells. This approach is based on a complex climate-change exit strategy articulated most definitively by Hansen, who has argued that in order to limit the consumption of fossil fuels in today’s society while promoting the switch to non-fossil-fuel energy sources, it is necessary to increase the price of fossil fuels substantially through a carbon-fee-and-dividend system. Under such a plan, a fee on carbon, imposed and ratcheted up in stages, would be levied at the mine shaft, wellhead, or point of import, and 100 percent of the funds collected would be redistributed as dividends to families on a per capita basis. The result would be that the vast majority of individuals, with lower carbon footprints at lower income levels, would come out ahead, even under the assumption that the corporations would pass on the full cost of the fees—since the costs net of dividends would fall on those with higher carbon footprints and higher income levels. The beauty of Hansen’s scheme is that it would help mobilize humanity as a whole on a class basis with regard to carbon footprints.