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  5. Here's an idea: a worldwide universal basic income paid for by a carbon tax. A study found that it could boost the global GDP by 130%.

Here's an idea: a worldwide universal basic income paid for by a carbon tax. A study found that it could boost the global GDP by 130%.

Katie Balevic   

Here's an idea: a worldwide universal basic income paid for by a carbon tax. A study found that it could boost the global GDP by 130%.
  • A study found that implementing a global universal basic income could boost global GDP by 130%.
  • Funding a global UBI with a carbon tax would also promote sustainability, the study's authors say.

Some might say a universal basic income is wishful thinking, but one study suggests it could have staggering impacts on the global economy.

Researchers behind the newly published study, called "Utilizing basic income to create a sustainable, poverty-free tomorrow," outlined how universal basic income could provide a "two-pronged solution to both environmental sustainability and social resilience" that could grow the global GDP from 39% up to 130%.

Basic income pilots gained popularity after the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused record-high unemployment — nearly 15% — in the United States in early 2020.

Most American programs are guaranteed basic income pilots, which provide a specific demographic of people with a set amount of cash with no strings attached for a predetermined time period. A universal basic income program, or UBI, would provide regular cash payments to everyone.

Rashid Sumaila, the study's primary author at the University of British Columbia, found that a UBI funded by carbon taxes on a global scale would be costly upfront but pay off in spades.

The study said that it could cost a third of global GDP to operate, but would result in an overall increase of the global GDP by as much as 130%.

"I must concede that the US may be the last place to engage with our proposal for all sorts of reasons," Sumaila told Business Insider. "But the situation may not persist forever as there are indications that Gen Z and millennials seem to care relatively more about tackling both climate change and inequality than older Americans."

Basic income pilots in America have met with opposition from conservative lawmakers. One representative in Iowa, which moved to ban such programs, called it "socialism on steroids." In other parts of the world, however, the idea enjoys wide political support. South Africa is on track to be the first country to adopt a universal basic income.

Sumaila and the study's other co-authors focused on funding this global UBI plan through a carbon tax "because of the global push to reduce carbon emissions to reach sustainability goals," the study says. They found that a carbon tax could generate trillions annually, depending on the scale of the flat tax.

"In theory, it is a beautiful idea to use basic income to help people, sustain nature, and boost the economy. It also seems possible to raise a big chunk of the funds needed to do this by taxing C02 emitters, degraders of biodiversity, overfishers, deforesters, plastic polluters, oil spillers, and the agricultural sector," Sumaila told Business Insider.


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