By Tom Berry
Those who have been following climate change and the efforts to come to grips with it will be familiar with the concept of carbon pricing.
This idea of obliging fossil fuel corporations to pay a price for the carbon pollution caused by the use of their products has been studied by thousands of economists, academics, and business leaders. The consensus is that putting a price on carbon is the fairest and quickest way to wean our nation from its dependence on fossil fuels.
Over 45 countries and 28 sub-national jurisdictions have implemented carbon pricing in some form. And more are expected to follow suit. The U.S. is an outlier among developed western nations as the only one without an operational national plan on this matter. If we are to have real progress reducing the carbon emissions of our country, uniform policy at the federal level is absolutely necessary.
There are ten bills in Congress that include carbon pricing. Each has its own variations on how the collected fees would be directed back to consumers or otherwise utilized. The largest is the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, HR 763 with 84 co-sponsors. This bill would apply a gradually increasing fee on carbon emissions and return that money to citizens as a dividend check or “carbon cash back.”
But, in Congress, the pace of progress is slow. Politicians are cautious. It is the rare one who will speak out decisively in favor of a proposed policy, unless they have some clear assurance that their constituents already support it.
CARBON CASH BACK 4 ME
Have you been wondering what you could do (besides making phone calls to political offices and writing letters-to-editors) to nudge our leaders into action?
Yes? Then Carbon Cash Back 4 ME is an opportunity for you! This volunteer group has outlined steps people can take to give our representatives in Washington the little push they might need to speak up.
- Step-1: Provide information to our communities, especially our local town leaders, regarding the needs for, and benefits of carbon pricing.
- Step-2: Get warrant articles put on Maine town meeting agendas so that our friends and neighbors can vote directly on putting a price on carbon. The list of towns and cities that officially endorse this idea will be shared with our elected officials. Let them know the importance their constituents place on this issue!
Anyone who’d like to get a glimpse of what inspiring leadership on Climate Change looks and sounds like should view the clip of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Ardern speaking before Parliament last year on YouTube.
Want to see our Representatives and Senators take a stand like this? Visit https://www.carboncashback4me.org/ and see how you can help them!
If your town is already on board (as are Portland, South Portland, and Cape Elizabeth), spread the word to your out-of-town family and friends!
Tom Berry is a semi-retired educator in Kennebunk and volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.