Commentary

How does the Green New Deal factor in?

The Green New Deal has received so much buzz in the news media that it is forcing the climate change issue into the forefront. It is an aspirational resolution somewhat centered around building infrastructure to supply and utilize 100% of the nation's power from renewable energy sources. Attached to that are goals for wages, medical leave, retirement, health care, housing, clean water, healthy food, nature, and free higher education. The implementation details and costs have not yet been developed, but the broad goals appeal to many.

The Citizens' Climate Lobby approach is complementary to the overall Green New Deal goal of transitioning to infrastructure that supports lower carbon emissions. However, the CCL approach is specific, supported by detailed economic models, and effective internationally. Even if the Green New Deal or some other program eliminates 100% of the U.S. carbon emissions, it will not solve the global warming problem because the U.S. only produces 15% of global emissions. That's where internationally effective carbon pricing becomes so important.

We are excited to see the Green New Deal generate so much attention that prominent Republican senators have felt pressured to come out with their own proposals to address climate change.

Maybe this can be the issue where we come together to set us on a path to the betterment of upcoming generations.

Rob Beggs

March 2019




Allowing Paradise to Die

It was a beautiful place to live. It was an affordable village that grew into a small town. People knew that it was at risk. Some said not to worry, and claimed the experts were wrong, but most believed that the risks were real and tried to prepare. They developed fire councils and had fire safety meetings at the schools, but they also knew that real prevention would be expensive and require some sacrifices. The fuel was building up slowly in the trees and on the ground. The fall leaves and pine needles would drop and increase the danger each year, but then it would rain, and the danger would seem to pass for another year. People became assured that things were all right when they were not – We don’t have to worry about that now. Human beings are not good at dealing with slowly accumulating risks even when we know the results can be catastrophic. But a spark did happen, and Paradise did die because we did not adapt when we could have, and not adapting cost much more than it needed to. Paradise didn’t have to die.

We have been ignoring greenhouse gases and Climate Change for too many years, and now the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that if we do not cut greenhouse gases by 49% in twelve years we will be leaving our children with a dying planet. The U.S. Government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment report says that we are already seeing the effects of Climate Change, and that they are going to get much worse. Even the oil companies (ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, and Total) say that we need to make changes now and suggest a tax on carbon as it comes out of the ground (https://www.clcouncil.org/) as a way of using market forces to transition out of carbon fuels.

A group of Republican and Democrat Congressman have joined together and introduced a Bill H.R.7173 - Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. If enacted the bill will put a fee on carbon and return all of the money collected to families in the form of regular checks. The idea is to drive up the cost of using carbon fuels and encourage conservation while not driving up the cost of living https://citizensclimatelobby.org/energy-innovation-and-carbon-dividend-act/ I believe the planet needs us to support this bill and urge you to write your Congressman, John Garamendi, and ask for his help in getting it through Congress. https://garamendi.house.gov/contact .

Mike Russell

December 2018

also printed in Woodland Daily Democrat


Carbon Pricing + Border Adjustment = Solution

Some of the argument against the carbon fee and dividend approach is that the money can't be spent by the government on favored programs. This argument whiffs two ways. First, returning money directly to households (actually front-loading the dividend is proposed) makes the program politically feasible. But the most important aspect is that a carbon price is simple to use for developing border adjustments to effectively force all major trading partner countries to adopt the same level of pricing. Whatever we do in California or even the entire U.S. will not solve the problem if other countries continue to increase their CO2 emissions. Getting an internationally enforceable program is critical to actually solving the global warming problem.

Rob Beggs

Nov. 2018




Giving revenue to people can calm the carbon pricing angst seen in France

In their well-intentioned effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, the French government announced it would increase fuel taxes to discourage driving and encourage low-carbon transportation. It did not go over well.

Violent demonstrations erupted in the streets of Paris and other French cities, forcing the government to delay for at least six months the tax hike. The protests raise concerns about public backlash against fuel taxes specifically and carbon pricing in general, and that’s a huge concern. Putting an effective price on carbon is perhaps the most important tool for reducing the heat-trapping emissions that will inevitably cook our goose in a business-as-usual scenario. If nations feel they need to set that tool aside, the world has little to no chance of meeting the emissions reduction targets necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

Fortunately, there is a solution that can calm people’s fears about the financial repercussions surrounding carbon pricing policies: Give the revenue to people.

See more here.

Mark Reynolds

December 2018