Bill on climate change will make difference

amy wayes doughty

As highlighted in the recent article “Protesters march as UN climate talks hit fossil fuel snag,” people around the world are frightened by how climate change is affecting their lives. They want to take steps to reverse climate change. France recently tried to implement a climate solution through fuel taxes but protests throughout France show people’s real fears: a tax hike would hurt people more.

Climate change action can happen without financial repercussions to the general public. There is a fair, sustainable, economically viable solution to carbon pricing policies: Create a carbon fee, not a tax, and give revenue back to the people.

The United States has reason to be proud. Breakthrough bi-partisan legislation was introduced last month in the U.S. House of Representatives for carbon fee and dividend legislation. It is designed to place a fee on carbon to those who are the heaviest users of carbon/fossil fuels and the largest polluters.

All revenue from this carbon fee would then go back to households as monthly dividends. The majority of families, especially those in rural, low and middle-income situations, would receive more money from this “carbon dividend.”

This bill, as a solution within a free market, is revenue-neutral. 2.1 million jobs would be added to the U.S. economy and American taxpayers would get hundreds of dollars back each month. Most importantly for our planet, carbon emissions would be cut by 40 percent in 12 years, keeping global warming limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius and aiming for a goal of 90 percent reductions by mid century.

This is the first time ever that a bill with climate change initiatives of this type is in the House. Three Republicans, including Michigan’s 11th district Representative Dave Trott, and four Democrats are co-sponsoring this legislation. Learn more about The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2018 (H.R. 7173) at www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/7173/text

As named in this bill, energy innovation is necessary in a clean energy economy. American people will have incentives to create and invest in renewable technologies. Companies focused on renewable energy will not be subject to taxes otherwise put on carbon-heavy users who will be held accountable to mounting carbon fees. We will all benefit from clean energy. With passage of this bill, it is projected 230,000 premature deaths from air pollution could be prevented.

A recent letter to the editor on climate change by Tim Clancy reminds people in the Upper Peninsula to call our local representative, Lt. General Jack Bergman. Thank him for joining the Bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus. Voice your concerns, show your support of this legislation, and encourage his endorsement of this bill. More bi-partisan support will be needed when the new 116th Congress reconvenes in January 2019.

We can learn a lot from our Canadian neighbors, as they are the first nation to enact federal carbon fee and dividend (CF&D) legislation similar to what has been introduced here in the United States. Already in the United States, over 100 local and state governments have similar CF&D resolutions. It is time for a national carbon price policy. Pollution should not be free.

The effects of climate change are already unprecedented. The UN’s recent report warns us we have to make massive changes to avert catastrophic climate change, with only 10 to 15 years before climate change is irreversible. Our children will feel a disastrous 7-degree rise in global temperatures and more violent, unpredictable weather. Unless we do something, now.

Unprecedented work is already happening to reverse climate change. International efforts from Citizens’ Climate Lobby work to enact fair, sustainable, nonpartisan legislation that puts a price on carbon.

Learn more about Citizens’ Climate Lobby online (citizensclimatelobby.org), and consider joining our local chapter that meets monthly in Marquette. Encourage our local government to endorse CF&D to become more resilient and prepared for climate change impacts. Measure your own carbon footprint (coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator).

Democracy is about using our voices and finding ways to work better together. We need a national, and global, solution to climate change. We need to put a price on pollution.

Our children, and our children’s children, deserve to play in snow through our cold, clear winters and swim in Lake Superior’s cold, clear waters because we’ve protected what we love here in the Upper Peninsula and ensured a healthy climate for all of us. We have it in our energy and creative spirits for innovation. We’re all in this together.

Editor’s note: Amy Wayes Doughty resides in Skandia.