Robert Harding's March 12th article highlighted the Green Party of Onondaga County's proposed solutions for the Centro bus service budget shortfall, including a tax on gasoline.
A national revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend like the one proposed by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby would increase demand for public transportation but more importantly, would bring about a sea change in the fight against climate change.
The use of fossil fuels entails social costs that are not reflected in their monetary price. A carbon fee would make the price of fuels that release carbon into the atmosphere better match their impacts on the environment and human health.
The money collected from such a fee would be evenly distributed back to US residents (the dividend), offsetting the resulting increased costs of fuel and consumer goods. Studies indicate a net positive effect on the economy: most people – especially the working class and below – would break even or see an increase in income, the economy would become more efficient, and investment in low carbon energy sources would flourish.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable. There’s debate as to exactly when they will run out or when scarcity will drive prices and volatility through the roof. Putting a price on carbon now will avoid this calamity and provide a market-based incentive to transition our economy to low carbon energy sources.
The fee would start low and gradually rise over time, avoiding any shocks and volatility that could be associated with cap and trade or other regulatory approaches whose unintended consequences are harder to control or predict.
Many businesses, in fact, prefer a gradually rising carbon fee over other alternatives since it can be reliably factored into financial and investment planning.
A recent poll showed that for the first time a majority of Republicans support federal action on climate change. The revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend would not increase the size of government or the power of regulatory agencies. This is our best shot for bipartisan action on climate change.
We must protect the environment. It is beautiful and precious. We rely on it for our lives and livelihood, not to mention those who will come after us.
What we do now will have a tremendous impact on countless future lives.
Learn about, talk about, and urge your representatives to support a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend.
Ethan Bodnaruk is a Ph.D. candidate in ecological engineering at SUNY-ESF and co-moderator of Religions for Peace North American Interfaith Youth Network