By Peter Rolnick, Iowa City; State Coordinator at the Citizen’s Climate Lobby
We understand the challenges we face with climate change. We understand that we need to act quickly to make sure our children’s and grandchildren’s world is livable (the status quo, as promising as it looks on many fronts, will not be quick enough). We understand that this crisis hits marginalized communities particularly hard, and will continue to do so.
We understand that we need an ‘all of the above’ approach: solar and wind, ethanol and biofuels, tapping into the wisdom of our farmers to store carbon in the soil, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, network overhaul electrical, technologies and manufacturing advancements in the production of products such as cement and steel.
We know that this transition must be done in a way that truly supports those who would otherwise initially be affected by these changes: workers in the fossil fuel industry, farmers dependent on gasoline and diesel who do not. ‘don’t have the money on hand for immediate transition to more sustainable methods, those in the middle and lower income brackets who cannot afford to put solar panels on their homes or buy an electric car, those who renters who have to pay utility bills even if the landlord has not adopted sustainable practices.
Finally, we know that the United States cannot solve this problem on its own; although the United States is a major emitter of greenhouse gases, China is the largest contributor, and the EU, India and Russia make major contributions.
What many of us don’t know is that there is a simple first step that can immediately get us on the path to carbon neutrality (i.e. not making any net contribution to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere), a step that is more effective than any other policy or regulation. This step, if well designed, can be used as a lever to get other countries to step in and do their part. This step, if designed correctly, can actually put extra money in the pockets of middle and low income families. How much would this step cost the federal budget? Zero!
This simple first step is carbon pricing. That is to say, put a levy on greenhouse gas emissions at the source (the wellhead or the port) which increases each year. The increased costs of goods and services will then be passed on to consumers, causing consumers, industry and investors to buy, manufacture and invest in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
If all or most of the fees collected are returned to consumers as part of a monthly dividend check, models show that middle- and low-income households will actually receive more dividends than the extra they will have to pay for it. increased costs of goods and services due to fees. And that would still be true if some of the royalties were redirected, for example, to help recycle coal miners or help farmers who are unable to pass their increased costs on to the consumer.
If this carbon price includes a so-called border correction (meaning that goods from countries that do not have an equivalent carbon price have additional tariffs), we will pressure other countries to do so. they are doing their part. The EU has already put a carbon price in place and plans to implement a border correction in 2023. If the US doesn’t, our industry, much of which is already cleaner than many of our own. business partners, will suffer.
Because the carbon price would be charged at source (economists call this “upstream”), this would put pressure on all sources of greenhouse gas emissions. What better way to move us forward on the path of all of the above towards carbon neutrality?
A number of carbon pricing bills have been presented to Congress, and carbon pricing is currently under discussion as part of the budget reconciliation bill. Call or email Senators Ernst and Grassley, Rep. Miller-Meeks and President Biden and let them know you want to see carbon pricing legislation with a border correction to keep the economy competitive. industry and to make sure our children and grandchildren live in a world where they can thrive.
And, as Eric Johnson, co-leader of Iowa City Climate Advocates, pointed out, the cost of the Build Back Better bill without carbon pricing: $ 3.5 trillion; Cost of Build Back Better Bill with Carbon Pricing: $ 3.5 trillion!