Guest Editorial:

Using carbon pricing to grow the economy.

Reducing pollution, creating jobs and eliminating rhetoric drives achievable solutions.

By Noel Smyth, who is an Executive Director at JP Morgan Chase in Global Technology and a Citizens Climate Lobby volunteer. Mr. Smyth is a Master’s degree candidate in Sustainability from Harvard University. The views expressed in this article are his own.  

A price on carbon can actually grow the economy.

I am writing this from California, on a family trip to Yosemite National Park.  However, our plans have recently changed because of the large wildfire at the park causing the quality of the air to become too unhealthy and hazardous to breathe. Climate change is here now, and it’s impacting our lives in a myriad of ways including increasing flooding along the coasts, heavier rain and snowstorms on an annual basis, and increased summer heat, drought and wildfires. These significant environmental changes are coming at the expense of our natural resources as well as costing tens of billions of dollars in restoration efforts and at times, claim the lives of those who are trapped and unable to escape these unnatural disasters.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels are the consensus reason for the changes in our climate. With 16 of the 17 hottest years on record having occurred since the year 2000, we need solutions.

Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed resolution H.Con.Res.119,  “expressing the sense to Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States Economy.” Last year the President of the United States announced his intention to withdraw from the global Paris Agreement, citing negative impacts to the GDP and manufacturing jobs. The planet has warmed by about 1-degree Celsius and is well on the way to the 2-degree threshold that the global community is rallying around.  The resistance to take action to address climate change in the United States is misguided and does not take into account some of the more creative solutions that address the economic impacts of a low-carbon economy.

The idea of a revenue-neutral price on carbon is gaining momentum across the political spectrum. The Citizens Climate Lobby, a grassroots, citizens driven organization, has a plan that would put a rising price on carbon that does not harm the economy. In fact, it grows the economy and creates jobs.  This plan would also reduce carbon output by more than 50% in just 20 years and reduce air pollution, which would end up saving lives and improving our quality of life. The plan calls for distributing all of the dividends to the residents in equal shares, and those on the lower half of the income spectrum would, on average, receive more in dividends than the increase in cost of goods. The plan also has a border adjustment that ensures that none of the manufacturing conducted in the United States would be harmed by the rising cost of carbon.

The Climate Leadership Council proposed a conservative case for a carbon fee and dividend. The authors of this proposal include conservative dignitaries such as Henry Paulson, James Baker and George Shultz. Both big business and the Nature Conservatory endorse the plan. With over  2,700 governors, mayors, city councils, universities and business leaders that have signed America’s Pledge to abide by the Paris Agreement, it is clear that there is support for these types of initiatives on a state and local level. It’s time that our National representatives consider the options that are being presented and become actively engaged in implementing these innovative and economically beneficial solutions.

Each day the problem gets harder to solve, but there is still time to take bold corrective action to reduce this climate crisis. Solving this problem is no longer a technology issue. There are multiple types of advanced and emerging technologies to make this happen. It’s time to make the decision to remove the barriers that partisan politics has created and make legitimate efforts to move things forward together.

Noel Smyth

Citizens Climate Lobby

Delaware County PA

Related Post