Forest fires burn across the American west. Hurricanes ravage the gulf coast. Australia loses millions of animals. The coral reefs are getting bleached and dying. Fossil fuels fund regimes which harm their people. Climate change is here. Climate change is real.
The clock is ticking to end climate change. We need to act now, and we need to make the actions we do work as soon as possible. We need to reduce fossil fuel consumption as much as we can, as soon as we can, everywhere in the world.
Technology has advanced considerably over the last 20 years, electric cars can travel over 300 miles on a single charge, solar power installations are going in around the world and the cost of solar has plummeted. Working from home is becoming more feasible, and we have all the tools we need to make this world transition to renewable energy.
Most people know that global warming is real, and that it is a problem. In order to make people match that concern with actual actions, we need to make it more economical for people to use renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuels. We need to do this swiftly, and we need to have a plan now.
Fortunately, in order to get most people to switch, we need to simply make it less expensive to use renewables than fossil fuels. and there are two ways to do that. Either the government can significantly subsidize renewable energy, or the government can make burning fossil fuels more expensive. At the end of the day it is the same thing because of the substitution effect.
There are only two questions remaining, first of all, which government programs will reduce carbon pollution the most for the smallest amount of money in the shortest amount of time, and second, will a policy dilute resources from other necessary programs?
When it comes to both of these questions, the obvious answer is of course a carbon tax. A carbon tax is the most efficient way to reduce pollution, it doesn’t dilute funds from other necessary programs, and it doesn’t favor one source of energy over the other. Maybe you live in a very windy area, in that case windmills make sense. Maybe you live in Florida, or Texas, or even Washington (to be honest) in which case solar panels are a very sensible and economical choice.
Most importantly, we need to pass a policy like this as soon as possible. As soon as the filibuster is abolished, we need to pass the bill proposed by Citizens Climate Lobby which is fully written out, ready to work, and will start making an immediate impact as soon as it is passed. Learn more about their policy proposal here: Citizens Climate Lobby
I prefer the plan by Citizens Climate Lobby because it hits all of the marks, 1. it exists, 2. it will work quickly, 3. it’s cheap.
My first point is because the Green New Deal still has not been fully written up. It is impossible to know exactly how much it will cost and exactly how much pollution it will reduce before it is written into a final draft as a real bill. A climate change bill needs to have these details flushed out, and we need to be able to set each proposal next to each other so we can determine the bang per buck of each proposal, and how long it will take us to get to any of our goals. Until the Green New Deal is finished, and it is studied to understand how quick it will work and how much it will cost per ton of carbon reduced, it is just a pipe dream. Also, it doesn’t take over two years to move policy from an idea to a final draft. We have other policies ready to go right now which are completed and have real estimates on how much carbon emissions will be cut.
The fact of the matter is carbon taxes are the most efficient way to reduce carbon pollution. There is no way any policy is going to beat a carbon tax on cost effectiveness simply through subsidizing renewable energy.
Second, carbon taxes win on speed. The legislature passes a carbon tax, the tax is implemented, and it costs more to pollute. Basic economic theory teaches us that when a good is more expensive, people consume less than they did before. With a subsidy, you have to start by allocating those funds (which can take years) and then you have to setup an agency to distribute those funds, and then you need to allocate those funds appropriately. Carbon taxes are simply faster.
Third, it is cheap. as found in that study by The IET and many many others over the last decade.
Please join Citizens Climate Lobby and work to pass real legislation which is based on science, we know will work, and will be equitable, fair, and effective.
We simply don’t have time to wait.