John D. Kelley
The author is group leader of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Santa Barbara Chapter.
A recent climate policy statement issued by a well-known national organization opens with, “The climate is changing and humans are contributing to these changes.” The statement says an effective climate policy should:
Leverage the power of business
—Maintain U.S. leadership in climate science
—Embrace technology and innovation
—Aggressively pursue greater energy efficiency
—Promote climate resilient infrastructure
—Support trade in U.S. technologies and products
—Encourage international cooperation
The statement concludes, “Inaction is not an option.”
Which organization authored this statement? Was it an environmental-activist organization like 350.org or an old-line conservation group like the Sierra Club? No. It was written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an icon of the national business community.
In January, a national bipartisan group of leading U.S. economists issued a statement that said, “Global climate change is a serious problem calling for immediate national action.” This group included former Federal Reserve chairs — Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen — 15 former leaders of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and 27 Nobel Laureates.
These national leaders in American business and economics are directly challenging the energy policies of the Trump administration, which are focused on so-called “energy dominance” and the subversion of climate science. These courageous leaders understand that, while we have the technical expertise to rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we need smart national policies to accelerate the process.
Our leading economists recommend the following five policy principles:
—Establish a carbon tax to steer the economy toward a low-carbon future
—Increase the carbon tax every year until emission reduction goals are met
—Use the carbon tax to replace redundant regulations
—Use a border carbon adjustment to make international trade equitable
—For fairness and political viability, return all the revenue directly to U.S. citizens through lump-sum dividends
Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress that follows the principles outlined by the economists’ statement. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, HR 763, will encourage energy efficiency, clean technology and rapid innovation.
This bill is the leading carbon pricing proposal in the U.S. Congress because it is bipartisan and market-driven. The Citizens Climate Lobby, a national nonpartisan grassroots organization, supports HR 763 because it will rapidly reduce our emissions and accelerate our transition to clean energy. It currently has 59 co-sponsors in the House, including our Rep. Salud Carbajal.
The annual carbon fee increases in HR 763 guarantee emissions reductions will exceed the U.S. target written into the Paris Agreement. In fact, this policy alone will put us well on the way to a 90 percent reduction below 1990 emissions by 2050.
The 100 percent dividend in this bill ensures that most low- and middle-income families will be protected from increasing energy prices. These carbon dividends will guarantee long-term public support for the policy.
The carbon border fee adjustment will create a real incentive for other countries to match the price in this bill, leading to rapid emission reductions worldwide. The regulatory adjustments will be narrow, simply preventing redundant regulations, and keeping intact key legislation like the Clean Air Act.
As Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee has said, “We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we’re the last that can do something about it. I don’t know of any other issue that touches the heart of things so many of us care about: our jobs, our health, our safety and our children’s future.”
Let’s tell all our elected representatives to support carbon fee-and-dividend now. Inaction is not an option.