Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Carbon pricing


August 2, 2018

Only two of the world’s 10 leading national economies don’t have carbon pricing programs: The United States and India. The World Bank’s Carbon Pricing 2018, published in May, reports 51 national and sub-national programs (in effect or scheduled to begin soon) that require companies that produce greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, to pay for their air pollution. The report notes that the number of such initiatives - either cap-and-trade or carbon taxes - rose sharply in 2017. This shows major movement for dealing with CO2 pollution.

Why the increasing support for carbon pricing? Because it is seen as the most efficient, rapid and politically feasible method to slow global warming. And most experts prefer carbon taxes to cap-and-trade because they require less bureaucracy and allow free market economies to adjust by the most efficient routes.

The specific carbon pricing plan that has growing support across the political spectrum in the U.S. - Carbon Fee and Dividend - places a gradually rising fee on carbon pollution and directly returns that fee as a dividend to all households. This system will provide predictability to corporations that for decades have been pricing carbon dioxide emissions internally but have never been asked to actually pay for them. It can be administered at low cost and the dividend will buffer households as carbon-based products gradually cost more. Innovation will be stimulated as companies compete to lower their energy costs and thousands of jobs will be created. The air will be cleaner, and Earth - our home - will remain habitable.

As National Geographic states in its April, 2017, article on climate change, “The world is warming, it’s because of us, we’re sure, and we can do something about it.” “We’re sure” not only because this is the consensus of almost all of the world’s atmospheric scientists, but because we can observe it in our everyday lives. And “We can do something about it” because - well, if we humans can’t do anything about it, who can?

We managed the transition from horse-drawn vehicles to automobiles. We went to the moon. We created a way for people across the globe to communicate with each other, share technology, ideas and information. Are we afraid of this new challenge?

Pricing carbon will slow climate change. To argue that it will damage the economy flies in the face of all we know about the power of technological innovation. It is a win-win solution.

In this election season, please ask political candidates for their position on dealing with climate change. And become involved with groups such as the non-partisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby or the conservative Climate Leadership Council that advocate for a Carbon fee and dividend.

--Mary DuPree, Moscow


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