Chris Hoffman’s op-ed lays out the sobering news and the good news. The sobering news is that we need to up our game if we’re going to avert climate catastrophe, and the International Energy Agency’s recently announced road map for reaching net zero emissions by 2050 illustrates the scale of the challenge. The good news is the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA) is a powerful first step in the right direction. Chris describes the many benefits of the EICDA and the urgency to include it in any climate legislative package.
Some sobering news and some good news:
The sobering news is that we need to up our game if we are to avert climate catastrophe. A new road map from the world’s leading energy agency, the IEA (International Energy Agency), illustrates the scale of the challenge. Among other actions, it calls for us to stop, immediately, approving new oil and gas fields and new coal power plants, and to ramp up electric vehicle sales to reach 60 percent of new car sales by 2030, and to transform aviation so that by 2040 roughly half of all air travel worldwide would be fueled by sustainable biofuels or hydrogen.
“The sheer magnitude of changes needed to get to net zero emissions by 2050 is still not fully understood by many governments and investors,” says the IEA’s executive director.
The good news is that there already is legislation in Congress that could take a big step in the right direction. It’s not the only thing we need to do, but it’s the single most effective thing. And it comes with a lot of benefits.
First, it puts us on track to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The carbon-fee-and-dividend policy prescribed in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA - H.R. 2307) sets a price on fossil fuels that starts at $15 a ton of C02 and increases $10 a ton annually. These prices are consistent with those proposed in a peer-reviewed study that looks at carbon pricing along with complementary policies to achieve a 2050 net-zero target.
H.R. 2307 helps us meet key climate milestones by correcting a market distortion that benefits fossil energy. Currently, emitting CO2 – which is costly to society – is free to businesses. EICDA puts a price on this pollution.
By creating a level playing field for clean energy and stimulating market innovation with price signals EICDA promotes affordable clean energy for all.
Next, it’s a fast, effective policy across the whole economy. While a clean electricity standard would reduce emissions from power plants, this would only account for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions. An economy-wide price on carbon would reach into every sector — electricity, transportation, industry, commercial/residential real estate, agriculture, and land use. It’s also quick to set up, leading to meaningful impact in a matter of months.
Finally, it puts money in your pocket. A carbon tax becomes affordable for ordinary Americans because the money collected from fossil fuel companies is given as a dividend, or “carbon cash back” payment, to every American to spend with no restrictions. This protects low- and middle-income Americans who otherwise might not be able to afford the transition. Studies show that the monthly carbon cash back payments are enough to essentially cover increased costs for 85% of American households. Most low-income households will actually come out ahead.
H.R. 2307 currently has 57 cosponsors, including our Representative Joe Neguse plus two other Representatives from Colorado – Jason Crow and Ed Perlmutter. As Representative Neguse has said in another context, “Climate change is an existential threat, one that has impacted our Colorado communities through devastating wildfires, intense floods and other climate-related weather events.”
Volunteers with our national, non-partisan organization, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, have been meeting with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for years to encourage them to introduce and/or cosponsor a bill exactly like H.R. 2307.
Currently our nation’s lawmakers are working to craft and pass a package of spending measures and policies aimed at transforming America’s infrastructure and tackling climate change. It’s clear that a robust price on carbon with a dividend process that protects low- and middle-income Americans is an essential tool that must be included.
We all have a lot of issues clamoring for our attention. But a few moments invested in contacting your legislators in Washington to either thank them for co-sponsoring H.R. 2307 or to encourage them to do so, could pay big dividends in our lives.
If we are going to put a stop to the summers of endless fires, the winters of dwindling snows, the years of ever-brown forests, the crumbling coastlines, the submerged streets, we will need large-scale system-wide changes. H.R. 2307/ EICDA is a great way to start.