A small number of fossil fuel companies will decide the future of our planet. Let’s help them make the right decision.
We hold it to be evident, that humanity is experiencing a climate crisis which threatens our prospects of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. The concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is higher than ever before during the last 3 million years and increasing at an accelerating rate. Every third CO2 molecule in the atmosphere is due to human activities, and half of the anthropogenic CO2 was added during the last 30 years. The result is a planet which is over 1°C warmer than it is supposed to be and the temperature is rising by roughly 0.2°C per decade.
In addition, we realize that scientists have significantly underestimated the impact of climate change during the last decades. Glaciers are melting everywhere, the polar ice caps are retreating, and chaotic weather patterns are already disrupting ecosystems and food production. Important species, including pollinators such as the bumblebee, are vanishing at an alarming rate. None of it was expected to happen this fast.
We also understand that the political process of addressing climate change has failed. The negative effects of a warming planet are already inacceptable, and we would need to reduce carbon emissions by 7.6% annually to have any chance of living up to the Paris agreement. We only have a couple of years to solve the crisis and climate change is still not on the top of the political agenda in most countries. Given that election cycles are typically four years, we have passed the political point of no return. Even if politicians wanted to save the climate, the political system would be too slow to do so.
The only hope we have comes from a very unlikely source: the fossil fuel companies. All carbon emissions result from the activities of a small number of companies that are allowed to profit from the extraction of oil, coal, and gas, without paying for the damage. Even they understand that this is wrong.
Nicholas Stern called climate change the biggest market failure of all times and it is easy to pinpoint the problem: fossil fuels are worthless without air. In order to burn one ton of coal, 2.67 tons of oxygen are required, resulting in 3.67 tons of carbon dioxide. In a massive Tragedy of the Commons, nobody pays for this abuse of the atmosphere, even though it would be trivial to introduce a system for doing so.
Whenever a barrel of oil or a ton of coal are sold, we can calculate exactly how much CO2 will eventually end up in the atmosphere. This makes it easy to implement global carbon prize by requiring the fossil fuel producers to pay for the emissions in advance. This is not a tax on the fossil fuel industry, since they can pass on the cost to their customers. In the end, it will be consumers who pay. The money raised this way should be used to finance the energy transition and cope with effects of global warming.
This could be the greatest public-private partnership in the history of humanity with the goal saving the only habitable planet in the known universe. The system, which we refer to as Global Climate Compensation (GCC), would work as follows:
- All producers of fossil fuel pay a fee proportional to their production to a global fund.
- The money from the fund is distributed among the world’s nations on a per capita basis.
- The carbon price increases with time and with the carbon concentration in the atmosphere.
There are less than 300 fossil fuel companies in the world and less than 200 governments. These are the global actors with the power to save humanity. The rest of us can build up political pressure to make sure that they act.
Global Climate Compensation would offer fossil fuel producers a chance to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Why would they do so? Perhaps because it is the only way to avoid total collapse of the global world order. And because GCC would be a fair, easy to implement, and effective solution. Polluters pay for the damage they do, and they do not have to pay for the damage they did in the past.
Perhaps also for the simple reason that if they don’t, we will lose everything. Maybe they do not want to go down in history as the people who deliberately destroyed humanity and all of God’s creation. When climate change gets out of hand, we will know exactly who to blame.
Let’s dare to dream about common future for humanity again. A future of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Let’s use human talent, ingenuity, skills, and kindness, to give hope to our children. It is not too late, but we are rapidly running out of time.
Please join us in calling for Global Climate Compensation. It might be the only chance we have!
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