CCI’s Laser Talks

What are Laser Talks?

Just as a laser is powerful and focused, a Laser Talk is a brief but powerful statement on a specific topic. Reading our Laser Talks is a great way to get informed about Citizens’ Climate Internaational, climate policy, and related scientific, economic, and political issues.

The principal audience for our Laser Talks are volunteers who meet with legislators and their aides, but we also expect them to be educational for other stakeholders and the general public. Laser Talks are not meant to be memorized, but to provide understanding that will help you respond, in your own words, to questions you may be asked.


Learn to speak like a climate pro

Practice our laser talks:

Learn to speak about climate change like an expert.

PAIR AND SHARE: Practice the laser talks with a partner over coffee.
MIRROR WORK: Rehearse them in front of a mirror.
PICK AND CHOOSE: Practice the laser talks that interest you the most – you don’t have to learn all of them.  If you are new to Citizens’ Climate International learn the carbon pricing ones first and try to internalize two to three laser talks a month. By six months time you will have absorbed the key laser talks.

Note that the laser talks are not meant for people to present as monologues. The real purpose of the laser talks is to facilitate a discussion on climate change with our political representatives, the media, and the public.

Carbon Pricing Laser Talks

 What is carbon pricing?

Carbon pricing refers to policies that make it more expensive to pollute—ideally making polluters pay more to do business in such a way, without creating economic difficulties for everyone else.

A carbon price, or price for pollution, can be applied at various points, as fuel moves through the economy:

  • upstream (on the raw material—coal, oil, or gas);
  • midstream (on refined and processed fuels and other products);
  • downstream (where fuels generate emissions).

Applying the price upstream is the most direct way to ensure the cost of polluting is paid by those doing business with polluting fuels. They may “pass through” that cost to other businesses and to consumers. To avoid pass through costs falling on households, small businesses, and community economies, revenues from a carbon tax can be returned to those affected, or to everyone.

Carbon pricing policy options include:

  • Carbon tax—a direct tax on pollution, which can be upstream, midstream, or downstream.
  • Climate income—a carbon fee paid as far upstream as possible, with all revenues returned to households in regular checks or bank deposits.
  • Emissions trading—usually including a limit on the overall amount of pollution, with polluting businesses allowed to trade pollution permits, to facilitate their transition to clean energy systems. An emissions trading system, or ETS, is usually assessed midstream—on power companies, for instance.
  • Border adjustment—a carbon price assessed at the border, to ensure goods and services originating in countries that don’t price pollution aren’t artificially cheaper than goods and services that pay the costs of pollution.

There are variations on each of these, and it is possible to have a carbon price that uses more than one of these options. It is also possible to use regulations to impose costs without a direct carbon price; this is less economically efficient and tends to mean pass-through costs are higher. In the absence of carbon pricing policy, we still pay for pollution; a study published in June 2022 found that inaction to curb climate change would cost the world $178 trillion over the next 50 years.

It is worth noting: a carbon tax is different from a fuel tax or gas tax. A fuel tax is often used to create a pool of public funds that can help to sustain infrastructure related to the vehicles using the fuel. Revenues may be devoted to maintaining highways, or subsidizing mass transit to reduce congestion. A critical difference is that a fuel tax is not intended to phase out the use of that fuel, whereas a carbon tax aims to reduce overall use of the fuel and eventually to phase it out entirely.

Because climate change is imposing devastating costs on people, economies, and nations, it will be increasingly important to enact policies that make polluters pay the full costs of their business activity. Nations can work together in bilateral or multilateral cooperative arrangements to participate in shared emissions trading systems or to align carbon taxes and other policies, to increase the economic efficiency of their energy transitions.


Carbon Pricing Around the world 

Around the world, carbon pricing initiatives are driving emission reductions that cause climate change. Using data from 142 countries over two decades, researchers found that the average annual growth rate of CO2 emissions from fuel combustion in countries with a carbon price to be 2 percentage points lower compared to countries without a carbon price (Carbon Pricing Efficacy: Cross-Country Evidence, 2020). Further, an additional euro per tonne of CO2 is associated with a reduction in the subsequent annual emissions growth rate of approximately 0.3 percentage points, all else equal.

Carbon pricing initiatives have been implemented or scheduled for implementation in 70 jurisdictions. This includes 47 national initiatives and 36 subnational initiatives. In 2022, these initiatives would cover 11.86 GtCO2e, representing 23.17 % of global GHG emissions. However, less than 4% of global emissions currently covered by a direct carbon price are within the price range needed by 2030 (range estimated by the CLPC, 40-80$/tCO2e). Prices must rise considerably to meet the Paris Agreement temperature goal of 1.5 degrees.

Recent carbon pricing initiatives:

  • The World Bank, and several country partners including Canada, launched the Partnership for Market Implementation which will assist countries in the Global South in either improving their current carbon pricing or implementing carbon pricing.
  • In 2022, Botswana announced plans to implement a price on carbon.
  • On June 6, 2022, Canada and Chile, two countries that have implemented a carbon tax, issued an agreement to accelerate the adoption of carbon pricing around the world.
  • On May 16, 2022, Canada and the EU issued a joint declaration confirming the willingness of the EU and Canada to coordinate on respective approaches to carbon pricing and carbon border adjustments to prevent carbon leakage. They also confirmed the intention of the EU and Canada to work together to engage international partners to expand the global coverage of carbon pricing.
  • The European Union will enact border carbon adjustments by January 2023 to go into effect in 2026.

For the most up-to-date information, visit the World Bank’s Carbon Pricing Dashboard.

More references:

  1. World Bank State’s and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2021
  2. World Bank States and Trends on Carbon PricingExecutive_Summary 2022
  3. World Bank States and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2022



Carbon Fee and Dividend a.k.a. Climate Income


Carbon Fee and Dividend is a carbon price that is revenue-neutral (meaning that the revenues do not go to government coffers). It is also known as Climate Income. It functions as follows:

  1. A fee is placed on carbon-based fuels at the source (well, mine, or port of entry).
  2. This fee increases steadily each year so that clean energy is cheaper than fossil fuels within a decade.
  3. All the money collected is returned to Canadians on an equitable basis.
  4. Under this plan, most Canadian households would break even or receive more in their dividend than they would pay for the increased cost of energy, thereby protecting the poor and middle class.
  5. A predictably increasing carbon price will send a clear market signal, which will unleash entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean-energy economy.
  6. Border carbon adjustments are eventually enacted in partnership with climate-friendly nations to protect vulnerable domestic industries while incentivizing other countries to price carbon.


Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms (CBAM)

Our Carbon Fee and Dividend policy has a provision built in to protect trade competitiveness: a “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism” (CBAM) imposed on carbon-intensive trade-exposed goods  that cross our border in either direction. Products imported from a country that does not bear a carbon price equivalent to ours will have to pay a surcharge to make up the difference. Conversely, a domestic-made product exported to such a country will get a refund for the carbon fee associated with its carbon footprint.

This CBAM prevents domestic manufacturers from being put at a competitive disadvantage in global markets because of the fee. It will also remove the incentive for them to relocate overseas to avoid the carbon fee. In addition, it will encourage foreign countries to adopt their own carbon fee, so they would get the money instead of us. Carbon Fee and Dividend’s CBAM is designed to comply with international trade law.

Note that the CBAM applies only to carbon-intensive products, not fuels. As well, considerations of common but differentiated responsibilites must be at the core of all CBAM design and intrinsic carbon pricing.





Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

In June 2018, the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act achieved Royal Assent and became law of the land in Canada. All provinces and territories must have a carbon pricing policy of at least $20 per tonne by January 1, 2019, raising $10 per tonne each year until 2022, with the flexibility to have their own carbon pricing systems which are equally stringent as the federal Backstop Carbon Pricing system. In 2021, the federal government updated its policy on recognizing the stringency of provincial carbon pricing systems and the price will rise incrementally to $170 tonne by 2030. In jurisdictions that do not have equivalent carbon pricing policies, the Federal Backstop Carbon Pricing system will apply.

There are two elements of the federal carbon pricing policy:

  1. THE FUEL CHARGE: A charge on fossil fuels that is generally payable by fuel producers or distributors, with rates for each fuel that are equivalent to $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2018, rising by $10 per year to $170 per tonne CO2e in 2030. The carbon fee for the federal backstop policy is revenue-neutral. Between 2019 and 2021 the revenue was recycled back to the citizens in their income taxes under line 449 “climate action incentive“. Starting in 2022, in provinces where the federal backstop Fuel Charge applies (currently, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario), will include quarterly payments at the beginning of each quarter.  To give the Canada Revenue Agency sufficient time to develop the new system, payments started in July 2022 with a “double-up” payment. Thereafter, payments will be quarterly. Of note, 80% of households come out ahead, a finding confirmed by the Parliamentary Budget Office and Clean Prosperity.
    Update: In July 2023, the Climate Action Incentive cheques will be coming to Nova Scotia too. This was announced in late August 2022 when Premier Houston’s climate plan was rejected. In November, it was also announced for Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Labrador too.
  2. OUTPUT-BASED CARBON PRICING: For businesses and industries that qualify, are enrolled in an Output-Based Carbon Pricing System. They pay a carbon price based on their emissions’ intensity relative to the best in the class of their industry, and surplus credits are traded. This component of the act protects emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries from trade pressures and carbon leakage. However, it does not send a strong enough signal to transform Canada’s energy systems to carbon decarbonize in alignment with the realities of the climate emergency we face. This assertion is supported by research by Clean Prosperity and the Parliamentary Budget Office. CCL recommends that the carbon price should be economy-wide and thus the Output-Based Pricing System should be temporary, and ultimately replaced with Border Carbon Adjustments.




Question: What is Austria’s Klimabonus ?

Answer: In autumn 2021, the Austrian Government introduced an “eco-social tax reform” with a goal to achieve NetZero by 2040. The main tool of this package is a national carbon fee applied on fossil fuels. The national scheme does not replace energy taxes, it’s in addition. It prices emissions outside the pre-existing EU-ETS by covering transport and buildings which accounts for a further 40% of GHG emissions.

The Carbon pricing structure follows the logic of the EU Energy Taxation Directive (ETD), an “upstream” tax on production and importation. Products include: petrol, diesel, heating oil, coal, and natural gas, but the list could be expanded. Electricity is not subject to the policy because power plants above 20 MW of thermal output are covered by the existing EU-ETS.

Initially, it will follow the following price path: €30 in 2022; €35 in 2023; €45 in 2024; and €55 in 2025. In 2026 it will align with the EU wide policy. This might become a market with allowances, like the EU-ETS, or it may be allowed to continue as it meets acceptable criteria. This will likely be defined in 2025.

The Income (Dividend) is called “Klimabonus”. Austria has a great website for public explanation that directly promotes the financial benefit of choosing “climate friendly behaviour”. It is paid to all residents in Austria and rebates 100% of the carbon tax. In 2022, this is an equal payment of €500 per adult and €250 per child, and included a 2022 anti-inflation payment of €250. In 2023, regional access to public transport will be factored in. The bonus will increase as the carbon tax revenue increases.

There are some compensations for industry covering: Agriculture and forestry. Sectors exposed to carbon leakage can get partial refunds; especially energy intensive industries identified in the EU as “at risk”. Also, particular “hardship” cases can be made.

There are a set of related policy and tax changes to help with the transition that include:

  • Lowering of labour taxes.
  • Reduced burden on families with children.
  • Reducing Corporate Income Tax in 2024.
  • Reduced Tax for ecological measures for Corporations from 2023
  • Home heating and insulation tax benefits.
  • Home produced electricity tax benefits.
  • All public transport in Austria with a single KlimaTicket.

The Austrian Klimabonus (Climate Income) is a model policy for other EU Member States to copy under the EU Green Deal (Fit for 55 legislation).

In short:    A strong and repeatable example of Climate Income (CF&D). 

  • A rising Carbon Tax applied to an extra 40% of emissions in Austria.
  • Cash payments back to households for the full amount.
  • Partial refunds for exporters like a mini border carbon adjustment.
  • Plus a number of very sensible additional policy elements.

More info on the Klimabonus

Question:  Is there any extra info on the Klimabonus system?

Answer: The Austrian government made it clear that every euro taken from the national ETS will be given back to the citizens through the Klimabonus. This makes sure that the increase in price by national ETS is sustainable for the population.

The Klimabonus is given to all citizens resident in Austria. Adults receive a full part, while children under 18 receive a half-part. The Klimabonus is distributed yearly, through bank transfer or physical cheque for those who don’t have a bank.

People living in rural areas use their car more and have a bigger house to heat up. To compensate for this reality, the Klimabonus will be varied to take account of geographical criterias. Two criterias are taken into account: the urban density (how far do I have to travel to go to the supermarket or the children’s school) and access to public transport (e.g. train or bus availability). The increase in the Klimabonus goes from +33%, +66% to +100%. A family living in a rural area can have up to twice the basic amount.

The Klimabonus was distributed for the first time in 2022. Exceptionally, the amount of the Klimabonus was brought up at 250€, and was complemented by a 250€ anti-inflation payment. Starting 2023, the amount of the Klimabonus depends mechanically on what has been paid through the national price increase. The estimates are around 100€ per adult per year. In 2023, an urban family of four is expected to receive 300€, and the same family in the countryside up to 600€. As the carbon price will progressively rise, the annual amount of Klimabonus will rise mechanically.

The Klimabonus is a smart way to make the national Carbon Price sustainable. Recycling the money throughout the Klimabonus guarantees the transparency and the sustainability of the system. Moreover, the Klimabonus is increased for people living in rural areas, which makes the measure more fair.

In short: Every euro spent though the national ETS is given back to the citizens of Austria with the Klimabonus. It is paid yearly by bank transfer, and will be increased for families living in rural areas to take into account the inequalities in how they can change their habits. Klimabonus is transparent, simple and fair.
  1. Public facing Government website
  2. Ministry of Finance blog article
  3. Anti inflation payment in 2022
  4. Regional access to public transport
  5. The Federal law

March 2023: Bridgetown Initiative

Laser Talk: Why We Support the Bridgetown Initiative

We all know the importance of balancing the books. Thus, it is not an exagerration to think that our global economy is on the verge of collapse. Dividends are being paid out, but at the expense of people and planet.  Our financial operating system is out of date.  We’ve ignored the notifications for so long that inequality and climate catastrophe are affecting our daily lives.  We need to invest to heal inequalities, restore health to the planet and build resilience to future crises.

Barbadoes Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s Bridgetown Initiative would address immediate fiscal concerns and increase vulnerable countries’ resilience to shocks. It is gaining support and beginning to work.

Many of the Bridgetown initiatives require no financial transfers from developed country taxpayers. They are based on the concept that if ideas change minds, then the global economic system will change for the greater good:

  • Developed countries can exercise influence to push the World Bank and other multilateral development banks (MDBs) to better leverage their balance sheets. Recommendations from a G20 expert group could leverage an additional $1 trillion for climate and development finance.
  • US and European leaders can deliver promises of emergency liquidity using $100 billion of Special Drawing Rights, through the International Monetary Fund and MDBs creating fiscal space in developing countries, quickly, and without harmful conditions.
  • Create a Loss and Damage funding mechanism will support climate equity at the UN climate conferences. Political support for the UNSG proposal to tax windfall profits from oil and gas exports could be an important first step.
  • Innovative funding mechanisms could unlock additional political capital for a paradigm shift in resource mobilization. A Global Climate Mitigation Trust, borrowing on capital markets, backed by $500bn of Special Drawing Rights, donor guarantees, or similar instruments is another proposal.
  • Heightened recognition of the nexus of climate and development stimulates new ways to engage the private sector. Innovative instruments (debt for equity swaps, state-contingent debt instruments, regional guarantee platforms) provide financing options for recipient countries, including the use of instruments that incentivize private finance, and could stimulate increased South-South investments.
The financial operating system is out of date. The Bridgetown Initiative will change mindsets and requires a relatively modest financial investment from taxpayers in the Global North through the multi-lateral development banks. It will rebalance our financial system through fair and sustainable development to avert environmental, economic and societal collapse.

February 2023: Bretton Woods Reforms and Integrity Matters

February 2023 Laser Talks: Bretton Woods Reforms  and Integrity Matters

Bretton Woods Reforms

The International Energy Agency (IEA) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have shown that fossil fuel infrastructure that is planned or already under development will exhaust the remaining carbon budget. We need a planned retreat from fossil fuels now.

Public money (tax dollars) can’t fund the net-zero transition and currently private sources of capital aren’t sufficiently incentivized to fill the gap. For example, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) banks and insurers with more than $140 trillion of assets, committed to net-zero emissions by 2050. But just a fraction of that money has been invested. Sadly, GFANZ financial institutions have poured  $270 billion for new fossil fuel infrastructure according to a new report “Throwing Fuel on the Fire”.

At COP 27 in Egypt Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados and Vice President Al Gore called out fossil fuel colonialism in the global financial system. They both shared a statistic that crystalised the problem. On average, firms in the Global South pay seven times the interest rates compared to companies in Canada and the USA. How are Global South countries ever supposed to transition their economies? Help is needed now with overcoming several investment hurdles including debt-crises in the emerging economies, credit-rating constraints, and foreign-exchange risks.

Earlier in 2022, the World Bank was tasked by the U.S. Treasury—its largest shareholder—with developing a comprehensive ‘Evolution Roadmap’. In January 2023 it was released. Here is a statement from the World Bank.

“On January 11, the World Bank Group’s Boards of Executive Directors discussed with Management an Evolution Roadmap for the Bank Group to better address the scale of development challenges such as poverty, shared prosperity, inequality, and cross-border challenges including climate change, pandemics, and fragility, conflict and violence, that all affect the Group’s ability to achieve its mission. The Board expressed preliminary views on Management’s initial draft, Evolving the World Bank Group’s Mission, Operations, and Resources: A Roadmap.

The World Bank, the IMF must step in and they are about to do so. On January 17, 2023 in Bloomberg News is “the World Bank is set to wield huge influence over how the energy transition is financed, potentially dwarfing the promised efforts of Wall Street giants like JPMorgan Chase & Co. or BlackRock Inc. to help eliminate emissions.”

At COP 27, PM Mia Mottley introduced a plan for 500 billion dollars of public money to be invested to unlock five trillion dollars in investment. For perspective, at COP 26, PM Mia Mottley cited a statistic that by November 2021 nine trillion dollars of public money was used to buffer economies globally during the COVID pandemic.

The public money at the World Bank belongs to the people of this planet. It is our right to kindly ask that it be used to create an equitable and thriving planet.

Trillions of dollars of private sector money could be leveraged at the World Bank Group towards a thriving and equitable planet. It is our right and responsibility as citizens all over the world to help with this transformation. It is our money.


Integrity Matters

At COP 27 in Egypt the UN High-Level Expert Group on net-zero commitments (HLEG) launched its report Integrity matters: Net zero commitments by businesses, financial institutions, cities and regions  The goal of the group was to develop stronger and clearer standards for net-zero emissions pledges by non-State entities. The group was led by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s former Minister for the Environment and Climate Change

Secretary-General António Guterres said: “A growing number of governments and non-state actors are pledging to be carbon-free – and obviously that’s good news. The problem is that the criteria and benchmarks for these net-zero commitments have varying levels of rigor and loopholes wide enough to drive a diesel truck through. We must have zero tolerance for net-zero greenwashing.”

The HLEG resource aims to develop stronger and clearer standards for net-zero emissions pledges by non-state entities and speed up their implementation. The report provides clarity in four key areas – environmental integrity, credibility, accountability and the role of governments.

The report is organized under five principles and ten recommendations.

Five principles
1. Ambition which delivers significant near— and medium —term emissions reductions on a path to
global net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions soon after
2. Demonstrated integrity by aligning commitments with actions and investments
3. Radical transparency in sharing relevant, non-competitive, comparable data on plans and progress
4. Established credibility through plans based in science and third-party accountability
5. Demonstrable commitment to both equity and justice in all actions

Ten Recommendations -detail what non-state actors need to consider through each stage of their progress towards achieving net-zero ambitions and addressing the climate crisis. 
1. Announcing a Net Zero Pledge
2. Setting Net Zero Targets
3. Using Voluntary Credits
4. Creating a Transition Plan
5. Phasing out of Fossil Fuels and Scaling Up Renewable Energy
6. Aligning Lobbying and Advocacy
7. People and Nature in the Just Transition
8. Increasing Transparency and Accountability
9. Investing in Just Transitions
10. Accelerating the Road to Regulation


Here are some key takeaways from the HLEG Integrity Matters: Technologies must come as advertised, there are limits on the use of carbon offsets, no new fossil fuel infrastructure, a plan for unwinding from fossil fuels, no being aligned with groups that lobby for fossil fuels and investments must be made in a just-transition.

More information: On Valentine’s Day, the Honourable Catherine McKenna joined Citizens’ Climate International for a fireside chat with our CCL France leader . A considerable chunk of that conversation centered around the UN’s Integrity Matters report. You can watch it:

Laser Talks Compilations

For the curious-minded: