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Please find below the judging results for your proposal.

Finalist Evaluation

Judges'' ratings


Novelty:
Feasibility:
Impact:
Presentation:

Judges'' comments


Congratulations! Your proposal, Sweeten the Carbon Deal in the U.S. Carbon Price contest, has been selected to advance to the Finalists round.

Be proud of your accomplishment – more than 350 proposals were submitted and only a very small number have been advanced through these two rounds of judging.

As a Finalist, your proposal is eligible for the contest’s Judges Choice award, as well as the contest’s Popular Choice award, which is determined by public voting.

If you haven’t already, you will soon receive an email from the Climate CoLab staff with details about the voting period. If you don’t receive that email within the next day, or have other questions, please contact the Climate CoLab staff at admin@climatecolab.org

All winners will be announced the week after the voting period ends, on September 12, 2015 at midnight Eastern Time.

Both Judges Choice and Popular Choice will receive a special invitation to attend selected sessions at MIT’s SOLVE conference and present their proposals before key constituents in a workshop the next day, where a $10,000 Grand Prize will be awarded. A few select Climate CoLab winners will join distinguished SOLVE attendees in a highly collaborative problem-solving session. Some contests have additional prizes given by the contest sponsor.

Thank you for your work on this very important issue. We’re proud of your proposal, and we hope that you are too. Again, congratulations!


2015 Climate CoLab Judges

Further comments:

The idea of taxing "bads" while reducing taxes on "goods" is strong. The proposal to reduce FICA is interesting and offers a relatively easy means to manage system. This combines returning the money partially to individuals and partly to companies, which is a strong idea! It will stimulate growth and has a tax reduction for all.

However, a few aspects need further consideration: (1) revenues from tax will decline, suggesting that FICA may eventually have to climb to make up; this is not stated.The proposal could threaten to bankrupt social security will not be an attractive idea; (2) it is not clear what the administrative costs would be and so needs more specificity. We are not persuaded by the idea that the country would adopt a tax proposal and then rely on volunteers to implement it; (3) it seems plausible that support will be gained for reducing FICA, but then NOT available for a carbon tax; it would have to be a quid pro quo; (4) the idea of a fixed price over time ($60/ton) seems at odds with literature that suggest we will need a rising price over time.

Semi-Finalist Evaluation

Judges'' ratings


Novelty:
Feasibility:
Impact:
Presentation:

Judges'' comments


Congratulations! Your proposal, Sweeten the Carbon Deal in the U.S. Carbon Price contest, has been selected to advance to the Semi-Finalists round.

You will be able to revise your proposal and add new collaborators if you wish, from July 1st until July 14, 2015 at 23:59pm Eastern Time.

Judges' feedback are posted under the "Evaluation" tab of your proposal. Please incorporate this feedback in your revisions, or your proposal may not be advanced to the Finalists round. We ask you to also summarize the changes that you made in the comment section of the Evaluation tab.

At the revision deadline listed below, your proposal will be locked and considered in final form. The Judges will undergo another round of evaluation to ensure that Semi-Finalist proposals have addressed the feedback given, and select which proposals will continue to the Finalists round. Finalists are eligible for the contest’s Judges Choice award, as well as for public voting to select the contest’s Popular Choice award.

Thank you for your great work and again, congratulations!



2015 Climate CoLab Judges
Further comments:
Idea of budget neutrality is appealing - and may provide some practical framing for making this work. It is unclear why author needs three proposals. It might be simpler to ONLY offset the carbon tax with FICA cuts. We would question too as to why FICA is chosen instead of other tax breaks that might be offered. It is also unclear why revenues go to Social Security and Medicare. The proposal may indeed be more political viability with a fund to general revenues.The budget for the project does seem a bit low though. The state idea may be worth thinking through more carefully.

It seems as though this is a proposal for a $ 50 per ton of CO2 tax (though we need clarity on how and where the tax is levied, presumably on fuel) with funds returned to salaried employees through a 1/3 reduction in the SS/medicare tax (just employee share, or employer too?)and remove altogether the cap on the tax (please estimate income here). Some other taxes (financial transactions) are thrown in. This seems a very narrow way to 'dividend' since salaried employees who pay social security tax misses a huge swath of low and middle income families.


The impact of this project has been nicely characterized and would be significant.

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Bill Ferree

Jul 14, 2015
09:35

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Idea of budget neutrality is appealing - and may provide some practical framing for making this work. It is unclear why author needs three proposals. The original idea was to offer a dramatic stimulative tax cut that would take the spotlight off of the carbon tax part of the package. $50/ton was originally chosen because it is a frequently mentioned number for achieving 80% emission reductions by 2050. Adding in a financial transactions tax and removing the cap on wages subject to the Social Security tax served to close a shortfall between the $50/ton revenue and the proposed $333 billion cut. These two items and the payroll tax cut also address what the author believes is a serious economic and social problem, historically high income and wealth inequality in this country. The numbers worked nicely too. Remember 5 and you have most of it. 5% reduction in the labor cost component, 5¢ increase in the cost of coal generated electricity, $50/ton of CO2 and 50¢ onto a gallon of gasoline. With a little bit of manipulation even the transactions tax and cap removal could probably be expressed pretty closely with just 2s and 5s. Goal: easy to remember. It might be simpler to ONLY offset the carbon tax with FICA cuts. The author agrees and admits to being a little nervous that the whole thing was too complex. Too much for the 30 sec. elevator speech or to fit into 140 characters. The proposal has been revised so that it has just two simple items, Cut payroll tax rates by a third and offset the revenue loss with a $60/ton tax on CO2. We would question too as to why FICA is chosen instead of other tax breaks that might be offered. The author believes acceptance of a tax on carbon will require widespread recognition of a matching returned benefit. There is great skepticism of trickle-down effects. People are much more likely to be on board if money taken at the gas pump comes back directly in the paycheck. The author believes too that the evidence of continued slack in the economy and stagnant wages suggest putting the money nearer the bottom of the food chain will have the greatest benefit. The FICA tax cut is also very business friendly. This is a 5% reduction in the labor cost line item of a company’s operating budget. That would be a significant improvement in competitive advantage on world markets. It is also unclear why revenues go to Social Security and Medicare. Revenues must go to Social Security and Medicare to fill the massive hole created by cutting FICA rates by a third. The proposal may indeed be more political viability with a fund to general revenues. The greatest viability with the general public will be achieved if the funds flow back directly to the general public. The author agrees with the idea that the plan should be revenue neutral. The budget for the project does seem a bit low though. The state idea may be worth thinking through more carefully. The author agrees. The look of the state lobbying effort would evolve depending on the funding available. The Alt 1 project should not be especially expensive though, because it is very targeted. The goal is to influence a limited number of on-the-fence legislators in a limited number of states. The author believes that in many cases it may require not much more than just being there to offer an alternative narrative to the one pushed by power-company and fossil-fuel-company lobbyists. It seems as though this is a proposal for a $ 50 per ton of CO2 tax (though we need clarity on how and where the tax is levied, presumably on fuel) with funds returned to salaried employees through a 1/3 reduction in the SS/medicare tax (just employee share, or employer too?)and remove altogether the cap on the tax (please estimate income here). The author believes the CO2 tax should be levied as far upstream as is practicable. Imported goods might have the tax collected at port of entry. Both employee and employer would have their contribution cut by 1/3. Elimination of the Social Security tax cap has been removed from the proposal. Some other taxes (financial transactions) are thrown in. The financial transactions tax has been removed. This seems a very narrow way to 'dividend' since salaried employees who pay social security tax misses a huge swath of low and middle income families. A very large majority of households do pay FICA taxes . In the case of very low income households that pay no payroll taxes, a different vehicle for returning a share of the carbon tax collected may be necessary, an adder onto SNAP, for example. This would likely be a fairly small number because generally, poor people don’t use as much energy. The impact of this project has been nicely characterized and would be significant.

Bill Ferree

Aug 7, 2015
10:08

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(1) Judges’ comment: revenues from tax will decline, suggesting that FICA may eventually have to climb to make up; this is not stated. The proposal could threaten to bankrupt social security will not be an attractive idea; a. I totally agree. Legislation would have to include provision for upward adjustment in FICA rates in the future, or an automatic escalator in CO2 tax to maintain trust fund balance. If at the end of five years, CO2 emissions from coal burning are reduced by half, 750,000,000 metric tons, electric car adoption has accelerated to 2,000,000 units per year, good for another 11,000,000 metric tons, and there is no net change in natural gas consumption, revenues will fall by about 14%. A simple fix would be to have the carbon tax climb over this period to $70/ton. (2) Judges’ comment: it is not clear what the administrative costs would be and so needs more specificity. We are not persuaded by the idea that the country would adopt a tax proposal and then rely on volunteers to implement it. a. The author does not have resources to calculate precise administrative costs, however it seems likely these would be minor. Raw data on fuel production and fuel imports should be readily available through required commercial and IRS reporting. Energy content and the implied emission responsibility of imported goods would be more difficult and no doubt require investment in a classification system. This should be a one-time process that could be completed for a small fraction of one year’s revenue. Administration of distribution of the proceeds to workers and businesses should require little more than changing the value in a cell of a spreadsheet. If some distribution is to low income individuals who don’t have employment there would be some added administrative cost, though if done through existing support programs this should be small. (3) Judges’ comment: it seems plausible that support will be gained for reducing FICA, but then NOT available for a carbon tax; it would have to be a quid pro quo; (4) the idea of a fixed price over time ($60/ton) seems at odds with literature that suggest we will need a rising price over time. a. This must be done as a quid pro quo, whether as proposed here as a carbon tax in exchange for a payroll tax cut or, as advocated by another CoLab contest entry, as a dividend instead of a tax cut. b. How much of a carbon emission burden is needed is open to debate and will only be known as its effects are felt. The author believes a more important metric over the medium to long term is the difference between the cost of renewable energy and the cost of fossil fuel energy. c. Life cycle cost of solar energy is already lower than fossil fuel energy in much of the country. In Florida now, at small commercial scale (150 kW), 25 year levelized cost of energy is less than 6 cents/kWh, without incentives other than the same fast depreciation schedule that is available for some other asset investment. Though the technology is becoming mature, some further decline in cost is expected. It is very plausible that with a $60/ton tax, coal electricity will be twice as costly as solar electricity, and natural gas will be at a 50% cost handicap. Solar electric energy for transportation could easily be just one fourth as expensive as gasoline. 40 miles in a Nissan Leaf requires about 80 cents worth of solar electricity from a home rooftop system.