“An important point is that such legislation I think needs to be introduced by conservatives, because I’m afraid liberals will try to take part of the money to make the government bigger. Not one dime should go to the government. 100 percent should go to the public,” said Hansen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Hansen, a climate change activist, is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.
While working for NASA, Hansen testified before Congress in 1988 that a buildup of carbon dioxide was causing global warming. ''Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming,” he said at the time.
Hansen told the Senate committee on Thursday that imposing a “rising fee on carbon collected from fossil fuel companies at the first domestic sale – at the domestic mine or port of entry” would pay for “the human health costs” of air and water pollution and “for the costs of climate change.”
“The public picks up the tap,” he said, adding that to counteract this, “100 percent of the money should be distributed to the public – equal amounts to all legal residents so the person who does better than average in limiting his carbon footprint will make money.”
“This will provide a huge incentive for individuals and a huge incentive for entrepreneurs and business people. It will spur our economy, make it more efficient, and it will modernize our infrastructure, and create hundreds of times more jobs than building a pipeline to transport the dirtiest fuel on earth,” Hansen added.
“With a fee of $10 per ton of COs, rising $10 each year, after 10 years, it will reduce our fossil fuel use almost 30 percent, according to the economic simulations by the Carbon Tax Center. It will reduce our oil use in 10 years three times more than the volume of the Keystone Pipeline,” Hansen said.