Commons Share distributes the value of common resources to everyone equally. Commons Share ensures the equitable use of common resources under limits, rewards conservation, and helps jurisdictions meet social and environmental goals.
The principle behind Commons Share is that when a shared resource becomes limited, then the value that accrues from that scarcity should be returned to everyone, equally.
Commons Share can address major issues such as climate change and water scarcity in a way that also reduces economic inequality.
How It Works: A cap (limit) is placed on a resource, shares are allocated to each person on an equal basis, which may be traded among users so that conservation is rewarded, and the number of shares declines each year to meet the jurisdiction’s goals.
By having a Commons Share system in place, communities can meet resource conservation goals, high users will pay for their extra use, and conservers will receive compensation for doing the right thing.
The Basics of how it works
The 5 Steps of Commons Share
- Define the Commons
- Set a Cap
- Distribute Shares
- People Sell the Shares to the Upstream Regulated Company
- Company Raises Prices, Conservers come out ahead
WHAT IS A COMMONS
A Commons is a shared resource or space that belongs to the community. Historically, these have included shared grazing areas, public lands, water and even the air. More recently, the Commons movement has raised public awareness about the common resource aspects of public infrastructure including roads, libraries, the Internet, the financial system, and the climate. Commons Share expands this to also include resources spread across the population which must be limited for ecological reasons including vehicle miles traveled, and the resources needed to provide food to 10 billion people.
HOW TO SET A CAP
When a commons is impacted by overuse or other constraints, a jurisdiction may impose a mandatory cap on overall use to manage the resource and meet conservation goals. A cap is a limit on what can be used (water) or what can be emitted (greenhouse gases) in a defined area in a certain time frame.
Setting a cap is a political decision that can be made at any size jurisdiction at the local, state, or federal level. The move toward a cap is often preceded by several years of local activism to educate policymakers about the need to reduce the emissions from or the use of a resource. With enough pressure, policymakers will acknowledge that in order to move forward with conservation goals, they need to set firm limits on usage. The cap provides a framework for a long-term goal, and is a mandatory, not voluntary, solution.
Typically, a cap includes a baseline year, baseline amount, and a target year. For example, the “Toronto target” for greenhouse gas emissions was a 20% reduction by 2020.
HOW TO DIVIDE THAT CAP INTO SHARES
Once a cap is set, the next step is to divide the allotment into manageable units that may be distributed to users equitably among the population.
HOW TO RETURN THE VALUE TO PEOPLE
The cap is divided into allowances (also called permits or shares) representing resource use. Their scarcity gives them value, so it will become apparent if the cap is too loose or there are too many giveaways, loopholes, and exemptions. The next step is deciding how to allocate the allowances.
The allowances may be given for free to companies, utilities, or people, or they may be sold (auctioned) by the government, generating revenues, which may be used in a variety of ways, including consumer compensation and dividends.