Voluntary Carbon Tax Witness

(For the related but independent website “VoluntaryCarbonTax.org” click here.)

A newspaper article about the origin of the witness is here.

The source of the witness

George Fox: Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people.” – George Fox 1656

Fourteen of us at Mount Toby are feeling led to a specific climate witness.  There is broad agreement that a carbon tax would be one of the most effective ways to address the threat of climate change.  We are joining together in a voluntary carbon tax witness and invite others who are led to join us.

Mount Toby Meeting has agreed to support the witness of those who are led, which we believe will make a difference.  If others in Connecticut Valley Quarterly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting start their own witness, better still.

The key to the witness is a personal commitment to yourself and to the group; the amount pledged is incidental and confidential.  Each person decides their own level of carbon tax (e.g. .01%, 1%, 10%, etc.) on one or more carbon uses such as gas, heating, electricity, or travel. The amount is confidential, but as a public witness the names of those participating would be made known to anyone inquiring.

Say you have pledged to witness only on gas purchases at .01%.  If you drive 3,000 miles in a quarter and get 30 miles per gallon, you have used 100 gallons.  At $4.00 a gallon you have spent $400. If you tax yourself at 0.01%, your tax is 4 cents, or at 1%, it is $4. Others might choose to witness on more uses of carbon and for different amounts.

Everyone who witnesses is counted, but the amount for each witness is confidential and known only by the fund steward.  At the end of each quarter each person tallies their total voluntary tax for the quarter and remits a check to the fund steward (currently Alice S.)  Based on decisions made by the Climate Witness Committee with all donors invited to join in the discernment, and using Quaker practice, checks will be disbursed to organizations sharing Quaker values and known to be working to reduce further climate change, to mitigate disasters caused by climate change, or to mobilize public support for either or both of these.

Mount Toby is supporting us in this climate change witness by agreeing to oversee a Carbon Tax Fund. For the Fund, the witness’ steward will collect donors’ checks, made out to Mount Toby Friends Meeting with “Carbon Tax” on the memo line, and bundle them for easy processing by the Treasurer. The Treasurer’s only task is to create a fund similar to that for Refugee Resettlement, to accept the bundled checks quarterly, and to make disbursements to the selected recipients.  The creation of the fund is a corporate recognition by Mount Toby of its support for this witness. This proposal has been approved by the Finance Committee, the Treasurer, the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, and then the Meeting.

It is a valuable part of Friends’ tradition, that Meetings offer support to those of their members who are believed to be undertaking a spirit-led witness.  Those of us undertaking this witness experience it as a true leading, and we believe that Mount Toby has recognized it to be so and is supporting us by creation and oversight of the fund requested.

With questions, please contact Alan E.

The pledge form can be viewed here. 

A calculator which can be used to experiment with values for the above forms is here.  We recommend that you start your self-tax with values that are modest.  You can change later by submitting a later form with revised values.

By submitting a pledge form to our steward, currently Alice S., you join the group of Voluntary Carbon Tax Witnesses at Mount Toby.  Our group is open to all members and attenders at Mount Toby.  We hope that other meetings will wish to set up their own version of this witness.

The voluntary carbon taxes collected have been distributed this way:
1st Qtr 2013: $424.57 Quaker Earthcare Witness (quakerearthcare.org)
2nd Qtr 2013: $310.35 All Things Local store in Amherst (allthingslocal.coop)
3rd Qtr 2013: $613.08 Replacing inefficient windows at Mt. Toby with more efficient ones
4th Qtr 2013: $498.28 Citizens Climate Lobby (citizensclimatelobby.org)
1st Qtr 2014: $672.37 350.org
2nd Qtr 2014: $661.84 Planting trees on Kilimanjaro (co2covenant.org/?page_id=366)
3rd Qtr 2014: $847.97 Habitat for Humanity for weatherizing homes for low-income residents
4th Qtr 2014: $830.41 Planting trees on Kilimanjaro (co2covenant.org/?page_id=366)
1st Qtr 2015: $827.63 Hitchcock Center for the Environment (hitchcockcenter.org)
2nd Qtr 2015 $756.02 North Amherst Community Farm (simplegiftsfarmcsa.com)
3rd Qtr 2015 $739.70 Trees in Vietnam (see the result here!)
4th Qtr 2015 $862.95 ClimateXChange working for a carbon tax in MA (climate-xchange.org/)
1st Qtr 2016 $861.16: $312-Northampton Survival Center, $549.16 to UMass Divest
TOTAL: $8,906.33