The Climate Change Plan That Works for EVERYONE

I believe my country, the United States of America, should answer this ad.

Recently in our May Meeting for Business at the Quaker Meeting House we began with the words of Parker Palmer:

“In a true community we will not choose our companions, for our choices are so often limited by self-serving motives. Instead, our companions will be given to us by grace. Often they will be persons who will upset our settled view of self and world. In fact, we might define true community as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives!”

It is so much more comfortable to gather with people of like mind and heart about the things we hold dear; however, the truth of Parker Palmer’s words have never rung truer than they do today when families, communities and even churches seem to be riddled with “combative conflict” which has as its mainstay the methodology of demonizing the opposition and holding all that they say as suspicious.

Our nation and our local communities are almost split down the middle in terms of philosophy and policy.  Everyone is talking and it is rare to find anyone listening.

I see this as fertile ground for Quakers.  If nothing else, we Quakers are rather practiced at listening. And listening (with vulnerability and compassion) is what is needed right now.

If we are going to find a solution to global warming it is going to take all of us, not 48% of us.  That is the first reason I am passionate about the Citizens Climate Lobby which exists to create a grassroots public will to change the dial on what is happening when it comes to climate.

I cannot think of any other issue where both sides of the political aisle, as well as all geographical areas of the country, have so much to gain.  My hope is that this issue may be the beginning of creative listening for people and politicians, who must be weary of gridlock and stalled agendas.  I want all my friends (I have friends in every group) to discover what I have found to be true:  it takes all of us to help this country live into its potential and promise.

The American public made it very clear in the last election that they did not want business as usual.  Instead of combative conflict we could try working together not just because it is the “nice way” to act (which it is), but in this case it is also pragmatic and profitable for everyone.

In this tradition, my hope continues to be that each person who reads this will take the time to join the Citizens Climate Lobby.  (Click here: Citizensclimatelobby.org ) Right now, we need as many “members” on the roster so that when those of us who go to Washington to lobby, we can say that we express the desires of hundreds of people from our region.  I call this level of involvement, “armchair activism.”  It is perfect for those of you who support this work, but do not have any more time or money to contribute toward one more cause.

Here are the main points of the proposed market based climate solution as so ably presented by Ted Halstead in a Ted Talk he gave earlier this year:

THE PLAN HAS FOUR MAJOR POINTS:

1)A Gradually Rising Carbon Fee

Although capitalism is our economic system it still has inherent  “market failures.” Market prices fail to take social and environmental costs into account. That means every market transaction is based on incorrect/incomplete information. This fundamental bug of capitalism, more than any other single factor, is to blame for our climate predicament.

What we really need is an application so transformative that it creates its own market, like Uber. In the climate world we need a new solution so promising that it can break through the seemingly insurmountable barriers to progress beginning with the psychological barrier.

Climate advocates have long been encouraging their fellow citizens to make short-term sacrifices now for benefits that accrue to other people in other countries 30 or 40 years in the future. It just doesn’t fly because it runs contrary to basic human nature. We humans rarely try to fix something until we feel the pain. ANd although all leading economist state that a tax or fee on carbon n based products is the fastest way to reduce their use, a carbon tax by itself has proven to be unpopular and a political dead end.

Which brings us to point two:

2) An Energy Dividend Program For All

Createe a gradual carbon fee, but pair it with a dividend program.  Returning the money earned from the carbon fee in the form of monthly or quarterly dividends to Americans would transform an unpopular carbon tax into a popular and populist solution.  It would also solve the underlying psychological barrier that we discussed, by giving everyone a concrete benefit in the “here and now.”

These benefits would be significant.

Assuming a carbon tax rate that starts at $40 per ton, a family of four would receive $2,000 per year from the get-go. According to the US Treasury Department, the bottom 70% of Americans would receive more in dividends than they would pay in increased energy prices.

That means 223 million Americans would win economically by solving climate change.

The amount of the dividend would grow as the carbon tax rate increases.

The more we protect our climate, the more citizens would benefit. This creates a positive feedback loop, which is crucial, because the only way we will reach our long-term emission-reduction goals is if the carbon tax rate goes up every year.

3) Elimination of  Regulations That Are No Longer Needed Once A Carbon Dividends plan is enacted

Eliminating regulation will allow business leaders to embrace the plan.

This is a key selling point. So why should we trade climate regulations for a price on carbon?

The proposed plan would achieve nearly twice the emissions reductions of all Obama-era climate regulations combined, and nearly three times the new baseline after President Trump repeals all of those regulations.

That assumes a carbon tax starting at 40 dollars per ton, which translates into roughly an extra 36 cents per gallon of gas.

The plan by itself would meet the high end of America’s commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement, and the emissions reductions would continue over time.

This illustrates the power of a conservative climate solution based on free markets and limited government.

We would end up with less regulation and far less pollution at the same time, simultaneously helping working-class Americans get ahead.

4) Creation of A Domino Effect Based On Border Carbon Adjustments

The proposed plan provides a new strategy to reach a global price on carbon.

Suppose Country A adopts a carbon dividends plan, and Country B does not. To level the playing field and protect the competitiveness of its industries, Country A would tax imports from Country B based on their carbon content and because the money raised at the border would increase the dividends going to the citizens of Country A.

How long would it take the citizens and government in Country B to realize that the money should be going to them, and to push for a carbon dividends plan in their own land?

Each country that joined the effort would contribute to the domino effect.

Once one major country or region adopts carbon dividends with border carbon adjustments, other countries are compelled to follow suit.

This domino effect could start anywhere.

Take China as an example.

China is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but what its leaders care even more about is transitioning their economy to consumer-led economic development. Nothing could do more to hasten that transition than giving every Chinese citizen a monthly dividend. In fact, this is the only policy solution that would enable China to meet its environmental and economic goals at the same time.

But perhaps we could lead?

If we had the political will.

If we saw the climate issue as something that effects all of us.

So I will end where I began:

 

 

THE CALL TO ACTION

Having read the plan, will you support this effort by taking 90 seconds of your most precious asset?

Go to citizensclimatelobby.org and scroll down to “join a chapter” and sign up under “Roanoke VA.”

This one act on your part will help us end global warming.  Don’t you want to be part of the solution?

– Joy Sylvester-Johnson (late to the party, but glad I came)