The Case for Carbon Dividends
The Case for Carbon Dividends

The supreme challenge of our time is tackling climate change. We urgently need to curtail our use of fossil fuels – but how can we do so in a just and feasible way?

In this compelling book, leading economist James Boyce shows that the key to solving this conundrum is to put a limit on carbon emissions, thereby raising the price of fossil fuels and generating strong incentives for clean energy. But there is a formidable hurdle: how do we secure broad public support for a policy that increases fuel costs for consumers? Boyce powerfully argues that carbon pricing can be made just and politically durable only if linked to returning the revenue to the public as carbon dividends. Founded on the principle that the gifts of nature belong to us all, not to corporations or governments, this bold reform could spark a twenty-first-century clean energy revolution.

Essential reading for all concerned citizens, policy-makers, and students of public policy and environmental economics, this book will be a transformative contribution to one of the most important policy debates of our era.

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  • July 2019
  • 140 pages
  • 130 x 191 mm / 5 x 8 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $45.00
  • 9781509526543
  • Paperback $12.95
  • 9781509526550
  • Open eBook $8.99
  • 9781509526581
Table of Contents



1. Why Cut Carbon?

2. Why a Price on Carbon?

3. What is Carbon Rent?

4. The Carbon Dividend

Frequently Asked Questions

Further Reading

About the Author

James K. Boyce is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and senior fellow at the Political Economy Research Institute.

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“A wonderfully clear-headed account of how we can fight both climate change and widening inequality. If there’s to be a Green New Deal, this is the kind of policy we’ll need.”
Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor

“Carbon dividends are key to dealing with the threats of a changing climate. Read this book to learn about an important part of the solution.”
George P. Shultz, former US Secretary of State

“Boyce makes clear the one climate policy that would work.”
James Hansen, former director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

"The threat of climate change is real. But action is still too little, too late. This book provides a bold and disruptive idea that could shape the new wave of policy and action on climate change. It would be ambitious, leading the world to drastically cut emissions, and also equitable, ensuring cooperation in action."
Sunita Narain, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi

"Congress must act to stop the rising damage and costs of climate change -- and that action must be based on sound scientific research. The carbon cap and dividend approach is a simple and fair way to require polluters to pay and put the money into the pockets of American taxpayers. And thanks to Professor Boyce’s research, we know just how effective it can be." 
U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen

"This crisply written book makes a compelling – and highly accessible – case for using carbon pricing to tackle the twin challenges of our time: climate change and income inequality. Covering the science, the markets, and the politics, Boyce argues that a carbon dividend strategy is simple, effective, and fair. Regardless of where one falls in the nuances of the climate policy debate, this is a gem of a volume."
Manuel Pastor, director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, University of Southern California

"Hooray for James Boyce’s Case for Carbon Dividends. In clear and compelling English, it explains the carbon pollution challenge and makes the case for citizen dividends as a straightforward solution. Too many global warming debates proceed in highly technical terms, leaving regular citizens – rightly -- worried that they will pay the price for new taxes and rules. But carbon dividends – equal remittances from carbon tax revenues sent  to every American man, woman, and child each year -- are easy to understand, impose more costs on rich households that currently use more dirty energy, and would leave most working and middle-class families as net winners. This primer should kick start many community debates, because it tells us exactly how the United States can make rapid progress toward a green economy and become a more equal democracy in the process."
Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University, and Director of the Scholars Strategy Network

"This is the best thing ever written on the subject. Clear, eloquent and irrefutable, it’s a must-read for all concerned with surviving the 21st century."
Peter Barnes, author of With Liberty and Dividends for All

"People fight climate change when they believe in a solution. Boyce's guide to carbon dividends is the indispensable guide for what's big, bold, fair and strong enough for the job. We need this book!"
Camila Thorndike, co-founder, Our Climate

"We define the atmosphere as a common property resource, so we can understand carbon dividends as payments by users of the resource to its owners – this is economic democracy. James Boyce uses principles of equity and economic efficiency to build a practical strategy to address climate change."
Dallas Burtraw, Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future


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