How Basic Income Can Support Climate Tech Solutions

The evolution of climate action has reflected the need for affordable options. Universal basic income (UBI) has the unique opportunity to empower everyone to change the world. The warming environment necessitates rapid development and deployment of climate innovations. UBI can provide the accessibility that is crucial to the widespread adoption of solutions like solar panels, energy-saving appliances, and electric vehicles (EVs). This article will explain how UBI and climate change intertwine to create the perfect catalyst for environmental responsibility.

Basic Income and Climate Change

UBI advocates recognize the positive impact that policy changes like this can have on the environment. Basic income is an underutilized concept that outlines how the government would provide all citizens with a base-level income monthly or annually. Ideally, this would be unconditional and exist regardless of socioeconomic status. The intersection of basic income and climate change mitigation lies in the opportunities UBI can create to reshape consumer behavior, foster innovation, and provide a safety net for those most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental shifts. 

Ensuring a basic income for all citizens can create a foundation that enables them to make sustainable choices without the constraints of financial insecurity. Financial stability can drive a shift toward eco-friendly practices, encourage investments in clean technologies, and empower communities to actively participate in the transition to a low-carbon or carbon-neutral economy. Moreover, basic income serves as a buffer against the inevitable career impacts that will stem from technological and environmental changes. Offering the chance to save money and seek employment in environmentally sustainable careers offers society a more resilient and sustainable future.

Incentives To Invest in Sustainable Tech

With a guaranteed income, people are not only granted financial stability but are also better positioned to engage in environmentally conscious choices. If entire paychecks aren’t being sunk into costs of living, people are more likely to use excess cash flow to take advantage of sustainable tech investments. There are federal and state tax incentives specifically designed to promote sustainable technology investment in solar panels, EVs, and the like. Some include: 

  • Business tax benefits;
  • Federal solar tax credits; 
  • Low-interest loans;
  • State tax credits;
  • Utility rebates.

With the financial stability of UBI, low-interest loans could become easier to obtain. This can facilitate the adoption of climate-friendly solutions that have upfront costs that many couldn’t otherwise afford. This financial empowerment enables a broader segment of the population to actively participate in the green revolution. 

Return on Investment

There are plenty of climate tech solutions that offer a return on investment, whether that’s through tax incentives or decreased utility costs. Heat pumps, for instance, are valuable investments that provide an energy-efficient alternative to traditional HVAC systems. Some of the perks of installing heat pumps instead of furnaces or air conditioners include: 

  • Less electric use; 
  • No smoke or fumes; 
  • Compact sizing; 
  • No fossil fuel use;
  • Filtered air; 
  • Increased home value.

With the economic flexibility provided by UBI, people can purchase heat pumps that not only reduce their carbon footprint but also provide individualized, long-term savings. Lowered utility bills and higher ROI when selling homes are just two examples. 

Ability To Reskill for Green Careers

Long-term financial stability often involves safeguarding your career for the future. Offering UBI can give people the flexibility to participate in continued education. The demand for jobs in many industries is going down as the climate is changing, literally and figuratively. The shift to more eco-conscious careers is palpable. As the job market evolves toward sustainability, UBI empowers people to pursue education and training in fields such as social purpose, renewable energy, environmental science, or sustainable agriculture.

Some of the careers in these fields are inherently entirely new. Upskilling or reskilling can give job seekers the edge they need to secure a long-term career in less volatile sectors like clean energy. With the assurance of a basic income, they can gain the freedom to seek further education and unlock opportunities to transition into these green careers. The financial stability UBI provides offers a safety net during the learning process, mitigating the risks typically associated with career changes.

Room for Investments in Decarbonization

UBI also affords people a newfound capacity to invest in companies dedicated to climate tech solutions. This democratizes climate action, breaking down financial barriers and enabling a broader segment of the population to become stakeholders. 

By investing in these forward-thinking companies, people not only align their portfolios with sustainable values but also become integral participants in driving the transition toward a low-carbon future. This diversifies the pool of sustainable investors but also creates a more inclusive and impactful approach to decarbonization, fostering a collective commitment to building a greener and more resilient global economy.

Looking to the Future

With climate change comes the threat of extreme weather events and, ultimately, mass extinction. UBI could be the answer by allowing the widespread adoption of climate action. It’s not that people generally don’t want to get involved in saving the environment. If they are educated on decarbonization efforts and the incentives to participate, UBI can be the driving force to get them involved.

Written by: Beau Peters

Revolutionizing Rural China: Shareholding Reforms as a Catalyst for Economic Empowerment

Revolutionizing Rural China: Shareholding Reforms as a Catalyst for Economic Empowerment

China’s ongoing rural reforms are fostering practices akin to basic income, offering dividends to residents in the vast countryside. This development draws a parallel to the broader discussion of basic income within the context of China’s social security system and policies, such as the DiBao policy.

Since 2016, China has embarked on a reform of its rural collective property rights system. This reform, which involves a unified method of property verification by the central government, has enabled many villages across the country to establish clear ownership of assets. This foundational step has set the stage for the distribution of dividends.

The reform involves transforming collective operating assets into a shareholding cooperation system. The government mandates that villages and towns with these assets quantify them into shares for collective members, allowing for the distribution of earnings based on these shares. This approach leverages China’s collective economic base and equitably allocates previously undefined collective property to each member. Consequently, villagers now own shares and receive dividends, significantly enhancing their sense of financial gain.

However, these dividends differ from the traditional concept of basic income. They are conditional, require ownership in the collective, and do not necessarily follow a regular payment schedule. Despite these differences, the reforms have led to innovative institutional experiments across various pilot projects.

For instance, to include permanent residents and workers without shares in dividend distribution, some collectives have introduced new types of shares such as labor, land, and capital shares. This diversification enables broader participation, aligning more closely with the unconditional principle of basic income.

In terms of periodic distribution, some village groups, like Yongjiang Street in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, have moved from lump-sum to regular payments. This approach, now increasingly adopted by local cooperatives, ensures more consistent financial support for members.

The impact of these reforms is tangible. In Beijing’s Haidian district, for example, villagers like Zhong Ercui have transitioned from traditional employment to becoming shareholders and employees of village collectives, receiving substantial dividends. This shift has significantly improved the economic conditions of thousands of residents in the region.

These reforms represent a significant step in China’s rural development, blending traditional collective economic practices with modern principles of equitable asset distribution and financial empowerment for rural residents.

Written by: Martin Han
Editor: Tyler Prochazka

Chinese youth ‘optimistic’ toward basic income

Chinese youth ‘optimistic’ toward basic income

In a recent study conducted examining attitudes among Chinese youth towards basic income, notable findings emerged, highlighting both a lack of comprehensive understanding and a positive disposition towards the concept.

The study, conducted through a questionnaire by BIEN student interns in China, focused on Chinese youth’s awareness and perceptions of basic income, a topic gaining relevance amidst economic challenges in China. With the country experiencing a slowdown in its rapid economic growth, phenomena such as “inward curling” and “lying flat” have emerged, indicative of the pressures faced by young people.

Basic income, a program offering financial support without conditions, is posited as a solution to alleviate these pressures, providing individuals with the dignity of survival and the power of choice.

Key findings from the survey reveal that while Chinese youth are enthusiastic and hold a positive attitude towards basic income, their understanding is limited. Nearly half of the respondents lacked a fundamental grasp of the concept and many held misconceptions about its universal nature. A significant portion believed the amount should vary based on location or personal income, contrary to the principle of universality inherent in basic income.

Despite these gaps in understanding, the overall response from Chinese youth was optimistic, reflecting a societal inclination towards fairness and the belief in basic income as a beneficial social program.

These insights suggest a need for further education and awareness-raising efforts, perhaps spearheaded by organizations like the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), to enhance understanding and support for basic income among China’s youth. Such efforts could play a crucial role in addressing the challenges faced by this demographic and in shaping the future of social welfare programs in China.

The full details and analysis of this study can be found in the original research found here.

Written by: Shengjia Qin & Rui Liang
Edited by: Tyler Prochazka
Mentor: Tim Lu

A Four-Sentence Argument for Basic Income

My main perspective is an argument with four premises:
1. It’s wrong for anyone to come between anyone else and the resources they need to survive in almost all circumstances.
2. Freedom is the power to say no.
3. A private property economy (or a socialist economy) without basic income interferes with people as they try to use resources to survive.
4. By doing 3, economic rules take people’s freedom away.
5. (Conclusion): private property or socialist economies require a basic income large enough to meet people’s basic needs.
I’ve written a lot justifying each of these premises, explaining & exploring what they mean, justifying the connection between these premises and the conclusion, replying to potential objections, making addition arguments for basic income, and exploring other conclusions that follow from my basic moral perspective, but–near as I can tell–this is the heart of my political theory.
Unified Basic Income: A Viable Solution for Israel and Palestine?

Unified Basic Income: A Viable Solution for Israel and Palestine?

While the proposition may appear daunting, the exploration of Universal Basic Income (UBI) for both Israelis and Palestinians is certainly worthwhile. Given the sustained conflicts in the region — from bombings in Gaza to raids in villages — and the current Israeli government, a unified UBI may seem implausible. 

Nevertheless, a robust discussion on the potential benefits of a shared UBI program across troubled landscapes from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River is a necessity. Despite a history of failed negotiations and a prevailing sentiment of intractability, a UBI offers a novel approach to a perennial issue.

Scholars like Diana Bashur, renowned for her research on the influence of UBI in conflict-ridden areas, argue for its potential to improve social cohesion, bolster peacekeeping initiatives, strengthen social contracts, and enhance the resilience of communities. As demonstrated in her most recent work on post-war Syria, UBI might not be a panacea, but it could be a crucial step toward a more equitable society. This innovative peace-building measure, detailed extensively in Bashur’s work, ought to be considered seriously by policymakers seeking to address one of the oldest conflicts of mankind.

Imagine the application of UBI across Palestine and Israel — in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Haifa. This shared income would not discriminate between Palestinians and Israelis but rather assert a human right to live with dignity. Such a policy could foster a sense of shared belonging and equality, thus promoting mutual respect, regardless of religious, cultural, or ethnic differences. It would necessitate a cooperative approach from both Palestinians and Israelis, forging a partnership necessary to make UBI a success.

A harmonious social connection, coupled with non-discriminatory policies, could enhance security and decrease instances of violence. Moreover, acknowledging the human rights associated with UBI could demonstrate to even the most radical factions the shared humanity of all residents. From an economic perspective, investments into UBI could foster development and societal contribution, provided these efforts are accompanied by comprehensive security measures and advancements in healthcare and education.

Contrary to critics, such a program may not be prohibitively costly. With the successful implementation of UBI and accompanying reforms, reductions in military and security spending could be realized, thus paying for itself. The benefits of UBI in terms of lives preserved and cycles of violence broken are invaluable. Providing Palestinians, particularly those in Gaza and the occupied regions, with genuine opportunities could not only disrupt the status quo but also increase their societal contributions.

The current situation in the region, marked by loss, radicalization, and animosity, is untenable. Desires for change resonate on both sides — the Israeli protests and the widespread dissatisfaction among Palestinians are testaments to this. Therefore, despite its potential complexities, the implementation of a shared UBI could be both economically and politically feasible.

While this article merely introduces the concept of a unified UBI for Israel and Palestine, the technicalities of such a policy’s execution will be elaborated in forthcoming work.

It is not asserted here that a shared UBI would be a panacea for all the region’s problems, nor that its implementation would be straightforward. The argument presented is that a unified UBI could assure the right of all residents to a life of dignity, thus breaking the cycle of violence. Once this foundation is established, politicians can convene to debate boundaries and borders in an environment free of immediate pressure.

Written by: Ahmed Elbas

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UBI Provides a Safety Net During Bank Failures

UBI Provides a Safety Net During Bank Failures

This month Silicon Valley Bank defaulted causing the biggest bank failure since Lehman Brothers in 2008. The US government helped in finding a solution to stop the depositors from losing their money. The main reason for the bank’s failure was a bank run because of the bank’s inability to raise enough capital after miscalculating its investment strategy and not preparing enough for the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes. Credit Suisse also faced a lot of trouble which caused the Swiss government to pressure UBS (Switzerland’s biggest bank) to acquire Credit Suisse. Those two incidents might seem irrelevant to a UBI, but such events show us the importance of UBI now.  

The current economic and political scene is unstable. There are a lot of tensions between the main actors USA and China on the global stage as well as the conflict in Ukraine in combination with the aftermath of the Covid crisis which hurt the global economy and supply chains. Especially Russia’s attack and Ukraine and the resulting trade war with Europe caused a supply shock in the Energy sector which led to global inflation hence rising poverty and forcing the Fed to raise interest rates. Those hikes in interest rates, slowing economic growth, and an underperforming tech sector are causing a lot of economic instability and caused recent bank failures. But the question is how that is connected to UBI. 

To understand why recent events, show the importance of a Universal Basic Income it is important to think about the potential worst-case scenario. The scenario that happened to SVB and Credit Suisse might repeat. Bank depositors might fear the repetition of such a bank failure in different banks and cause more bank runs as the whole banking sector is based on trust and there is no single bank that would survive a bank run without government support. There is also doubt in the current political climate how much possible bank bailouts are politically doable especially as most people will feel that the government supports the banking gamblers with their tax money while leaving the normal average people who didn’t do anything wrong alone when they struggle because of different reasons.   

So, the first connection between UBI and the current banking problems is that the implementation of UBI would increase the population’s trust in the government as people will now feel seen and protected by society and will be less negative towards a potential bank bailout. Although possible bank bailouts would have to come with increased regulation to avoid giving the banks the feeling that they can do whatever they want, and the government will protect them while they screw the people’s money.  

Another reason why the current economic situation makes UBI more necessary than before is that in a climate of increasing interest rates and declining trust in banks people will draw money from the economy, hence decreasing demand. Decreasing demand will lead to decreasing supply and will increase unemployment. A lot of economists like Larry Summers confess that and say it is a bitter pill to take to reduce inflation. Let’s assume that’s correct although I’m not sure that this is the best way out of the current situation that would mean that society is sacrificing jobs and hence the wealth of a lot of people to reduce inflation for the rest.  

Such action is morally wrong, especially if people aren’t given a social net that protects them after losing their jobs to provide for themselves and their families. And we have to remember that the sole reason for them being unemployed will be that the FED and other Central Banks in other countries decided that higher unemployment is necessary to reduce inflation. This would make those people and their families suffer a lot financially and mentally and they might not find a way back to bring back structure in their life without support that relieves them of the stress of having just lost their livelihood. UBI would be the perfect measure to achieve that  

The third argument which highlights the importance of UBI now has to do with the real economy and supply and demand. While a huge part of inflation is caused by the supply shocks from the Ukraine war it can’t be denied that it is also caused partly by a demand that might be higher than the current supply especially as supply chains haven’t recovered completely yet. And while many people might assume that this would be an argument against UBI as UBI would most probably increase demand we have to look at it from the other side too. Giving people a Universal Basic Income would mean giving people more flexibility and more control over their lives. People will choose the jobs they want to do instead of just taking any job. This dynamic might be crucial in overcoming the current crisis.  It is expected that UBI will have a positive impact on entrepreneurship and small investments and such effects have been seen partly in previous pilot programs. Giving people a UBI would hence increase supply as smart entrepreneurs will see the gap between supply demand and work on filling that gap to make profits. This will mean a virtuous way out of inflation instead of a vicious way out of inflation. It would be also a way of directly supporting the victims instead of rewarding the gamblers  

While a bank crisis is still avoidable, the current situation shows the importance of UBI on multiple fronts to help people in those difficult times. The government has tried to rescue the economy through trickle-down measures often and now it’s time to give people the chance to rescue the economy themselves by giving them a fair chance and promoting entrepreneurship by introducing a UBI and following a spirit of capitalism that left and right will be able to agree on. 

Written by: Ahmed Elbas