Letter: A model for all
December 23, 2016
The letter "Empowered by the Citizens Climate Lobby" (Dec. 17, The Aspen Times) says Citizens Climate Lobby has a "nonpartisan market-based solution to drastically reduce emissions and create jobs." I'd like to explain what that solution is.
It's called "carbon fee-and-dividend": Fossil fuel corporations pay the fee; we get the dividend. When I first heard about this idea a few years ago, I was struck by how simple, obvious and transparent it was. When I read in The Economist that carbon fee-and-dividend had been working as promised for eight years in British Columbia, lowering taxes and energy bills and growing their economy faster than any other Canadian province, I was convinced. Later I learned that carbon fee-and-dividend has a whopping 83 percent public approval rating there (World Bank).
Then the highly-respected economic modeling firm Regional Economics Modeling Inc.issued a report projecting that carbon fee-and-dividend would increase gross domestic product in the U.S. by $75 to $80 billion annually and create millions of U.S. jobs.
With carbon fee-and-dividend, all fossil fuel corporations pay a carbon pollution fee, not to the government, but to every taxpayer in equal monthly "carbon dividend" checks. As the fee goes up every year, so do people's carbon dividends. As fossil fuels become more expensive than clean energy, middle-class and lower-income people who uses their carbon dividend money to buy solar and wind energy come out ahead financially. You can see the details on how this works at the Citizens Climate Lobby website.
One of the great advantages of carbon fee-and-dividend is that it doesn't use government regulations, expenditures or expansion, just market forces, so it's in line with conservative economic principles. This makes it bipartisan support in Congress possible.
The fledgling solar and wind industries already employ more Americans than the entire U.S. fossil fuel industry. A clean-energy economy in the U.S. will create over 5 million jobs, five times the number currently employed by the fossil fuel industry. And they'll will be good-paying, permanent (40-year) jobs (Stanford University's solutionsproject.org).
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Clean energy will also reduce the over 200,000 American deaths annually from carbon pollution (MIT.edu) and the over $866.5 billion Americans spend on medical bills for carbon-caused illnesses (Forbes).
Using carbon pricing, fossil fuels could be phased out, globally, within the next decade (Newsweek). Revenue-neutral carbon pricing, like CCL's would mean there would be no cost to consumers or taxpayers. Most importantly, carbon fee-and-dividend will eliminate the existential threat of global warming and avoid the over $369 trillion in climate disasters that the world's most highly-cited science journal, Nature, projects we'll have if we continue to burn fossil fuels.
Solar and wind energy will be nearly free within 20 years (Washington Post). All we need is bipartisan action in Congress to pass a carbon-fee-and-dividend bill. This will be a model for other countries to follow, and it will create a safe, healthy and prosperous future for us and our descendants.
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