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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

The Many Co-benefits of a Good Climate Solution

by John Gage, Citizens’ Climate Lobby New Hampshire state coordinator

The cheapest and quickest way to reduce climate pollution is to put a price on it and let efficient market forces unleash the investment, innovation, and transition to clean energy solutions required.  We can protect household budgets during the process, and protect US businesses from free-polluting foreign competition while strongly encouraging other countries to follow our lead, with a simple three-part solution:

  1. Carbon Fee:  Charge fossil fuel producers and importers a carbon fee, starting at $15 per ton of CO2e and increasing it by $10 more each year, based on the pollution generated from their products;

  2. Dividend:  Return all the money collected back to all households each month equally – one share per adult, a half-share per child – to recoup each of us for damages from the pollution; and

  3. Border Carbon Adjustments:  Put a corresponding carbon fee on energy-intensive imports from countries that don’t match our carbon price and remove the fee from our exports to keep the US globally competitive.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (HR763) does that, and the effect is powerful.

Fossil fuel producers will pass their increasing costs down to businesses, incentivizing both to invest in, develop, and use other energy solutions.  Businesses will pass their temporarily higher energy costs down to consumers, and compete to reduce their costs.  Consumers cannot pass down their higher costs, so their purchasing power is protected by the dividend.  Producers and consumers will make more fully-informed choices and clean energy options will rapidly become less expensive than polluting ones.

There are many benefits to this climate solution:

It’s Effective:  Carbon emissions will be reduced by 40% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.  This will hold warming below 2˚C this century when other countries follow our lead.

It’s Bipartisan:  73 members of Congress (as of Nov 20129)- from both parties – are cosponsors of HR763.

It’s Good for People:  Two-thirds of all households will break even or receive more in their dividend than they spend due to higher prices from the fee.  Check out how you’ll do here:  citizensclimatelobby.org/calculator/.

It Cleans the Air and Water:  13,000 lives will be saved annually in 10 years as producers and consumers are incentivized to chose clean energy solutions and pollution drops as a result.

It Helps the Poor:  The lowest 10% of households by income will get an average of 9% more income each month by year five simply because they have smaller-than-average carbon footprints.

It Creates Jobs:  2.1 million new jobs (net) will be created in ten years from the extra spending that enables by low-income households.

It’s Efficient:  Businesses will pay the steadily increasing fossil fuel energy prices and pass some of those higher costs down to consumers, and be incentivized to reduce that cost by increasing efficiency and making clean energy choices.

It Protects Businesses:  The border carbon adjustment will protect US businesses and jobs by putting the cost of pollution into the price of imports and taking it out of exports in trade with countries that haven’t yet matched our carbon price.

It has Global Reach:  The border protection will strongly incentivize all other countries to match our carbon price, driving global emissions down as required for our safety.  Eighty-eight countries already have or are planning to use carbon pricing to reduce their carbon emissions, forty-six are already doing so but most with an insufficient price.  We can show them how to do it right.

Congress can not do this without our help.  Status quo-profiting businesses and politicians supported by them have actively worked against this for decades.  They got the benefits, we got the pollution and are paying for it.  If we want change we must create the political will for it ourselves.  By speaking up together for our common interests we can make it happen.

We will get the economic and job benefits of leading the next big global transition, reduce pollution, and make great strides towards ensuring a safe climate for our children and life on Earth.  Please read more about the Energy Innovation Act and send Congress an email now:  cclusa.org/energy-innovation-act/.  Businesses, organizations, and elected leaders can help by endorsing the bill:  energyinnovationact.org/endorse/.  Thank you!

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