Carbon Taxes < Planting Trees = Better Climate

August 29, 2019

By David Flemming

A new study been changing the conversation from “should we use the Green New Deal or a carbon tax to combat climate change?” to “could we just plant more trees?”

Two years ago, the ESSEX Carbon Tax was introduced as one the key bills for fighting against climate change in Vermont. ESSEX lost much of its luster when put under the microscope by small-government advocates on the right and low-income advocates on the left, concerned over how such a tax would impact poor households. Often in the neighborhood of a couple hundred dollars a year. Advocates had to settle for piecemail legislation, such as increasing the heating fuel tax last legislative session. Nationally, the Green New Deal would be even more extreme in the burden on American taxpayers- as much as $70,000 per household.

A new study published in a prestigious academic journal suggests a radically different solution to climate change, summarized as follows: “the July analytical review in Science… found that there are 1.7 billion hectares (4.2 billion acres) of treeless land on which 1.2 trillion native tree saplings would naturally grow. Using the most efficient methods, 1 trillion trees could be restored for as little as $300 billion — less than 2 percent of the lower range of estimates for the Green New Deal introduced by progressive Democrats in February 2019.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) estimates that her Green New Deal would cost $10 trillion, though many estimate it would cost much more.

So the ball is in the court of Vermont’s legislature. In addition to having one of the lowest CO2 emissions per capita in the US, only NH can best Vermont’s 76% of land covered by forest, meaning our state’s trees suck up much of the CO2 emitted by our neighboring states less covered by forest. We are already doing more than our part in the fight against climate change.

If we really want to go overboard, perhaps we should think of getting rid of some of the solar panels that mar our mountain views? Then we can replant the trees that we cut down to make space for those solar panels? In a few decades those trees will be absorbing CO2 while the solar panels will by lying in a landfill. Anything goes in the fight against climate change.

Vermont is already in the process of investing in its forests. Burlington spent $19,600 to plant 266 new trees in 2018, and is on track to spend $39,200 for 360 new trees in 2019. Unfortunately, much of that planting is being done to combat the insidious tree diseases that have been attacking Vermont trees for the past decade. Still, any newly planted trees may grow faster than they may have a few decades ago, ironically due to increased levels of CO2 climate change.

Perhaps environmentalists should stop investing so much money in lobbying for draconian and burdensome carbon taxes on Vermonters. Then they can really push back against climate change by investing those lobbying dollars into planting new trees (in Vermont or elsewhere) and in researching new ways to protect the trees that we have.

David Flemming is a policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Boganboy August 30, 2019 at 4:19 am

I’d argue for powering Vermont with zero CO2 nuclear instead of the gas that backs up the renewables.


Thaddeus Cline August 31, 2019 at 12:47 am

While a very small amount on the left worried about what they would do for those less fortunate. And we did try to give money only to the less fortunate for insulating houses and the like . But our. Senate President blocked that to include the middle class as well. No doubt be he thought he’d get more votes and support if he did. Well it probably did both . But I personally would have taken care of the less fortunate first .
What we did do is relies that a carbon tax would not be enough to stop the oil and gas companies from doing you know what , either right away or slowly . And why do I and others not trust the oil and gas companies?
Here’s just one of the many answers that should prove to you that it’s not all just climate catastrophe but how they rip us all of as well . ( if they are ripping us off is there some reason they won’t lie to you about what they really do ? . We all know or at least should know that Exxon’s own researchers told Exxon that climate change by humans is and was happing . Ya know that’s it’s not that hard to find vetted facts on the internet from vetted sources )
The oil and gas companies have to pay royalties to the United States ie; you the tax payer . Just before a new lease time was up and the senate was about to vote . In the middle of the night the law was rewritten so that a number of oil rigs would not have to pay the as much royalties. And the senate vote for it with out knowing it had been changed . To this day nobody knows who did it . But it happened and as far as know it could have been democrats as it could be republicans.
Two years latter the democrats did try to make all the oil rigs pay the same . But by then the republicans were in charge so it didn’t happen , possibly democrats who need money from the oil companies did to . Bottom line you and I have to pay more tax because the oil and gas companies did not .
Now if you want me to go down that line and show you more about how they know how to take our money away from us and how . I’d be glad to , but I’m sure you get my drift by now .
The big picture point is ( and I bet you know what’s coming) if you don’t have an earth to live on you can’t have anything else you want .
Believe it our not I and the rest on my side , are not trying to “ talk down to you “ but If we sound like we do it’s simply because your not listening.
If you want us to listen to you , then do the same for us . ( please don’t make us talk to you like we would to teenagers)
What we are trying to do is let you learn , yes let you ,not teach you . Just showing you what you can find and let you decide . If the earth was hanging in the balance , would you not do the same for us?
More and more Americans understand and believe what our scientists tell us . Just look at the polls . And believe it or not , many republicans understand as well . Just look at Florida to see just in that one state how many republicans now understand.


Mark Shepard August 31, 2019 at 3:47 am

Thaddeus, I agree with keeping the focus on those most in need. Education should have been done that way also, instead of how Act 60 and 68 did it, which encompassed enough people to make a majority of Vermonters think they were getting a better deal. Of course the world after a policy is different than it was before and the line in Act60 slipped, which then Act 68 put it back up … unfortunately. The flatter and broader a tax, the lower the rates and the less room for corruption.


Mike August 31, 2019 at 12:44 pm

And now we have the fires clearing the rain forests by the Amazon River in Brazil. How many trees does this fiasco eliminate? These folks could care less about the environment and there actions are should be severely punished. Alas. It will never happen.


William Hays September 3, 2019 at 1:22 pm

Nice ‘fact checking’, Mike, not!


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