I was at the meeting that Gary Anderson attended and on which he based his March 14 column, “Carbon fee and dividend reality.” I am grateful that he came, listened, and has chosen to highlight climate change and the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, HR 763, but I think he reached some incorrect and dangerous conclusions. 

Mr. Anderson lays out the scientific consensus that we face an existential threat. He states that “the best way to sufficiently cut carbon emissions by 2030 is to cut access to fossil fuels by whatever necessary metric.” Then he seems to advocate rationing à la World War II.  Rationing is a very inefficient and costly method of reducing use of fossil fuels.  

The IPCC report did not say that we needed to reach zero carbon emissions by 2030, it said we need to be making a good faith effort to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 in order to avoid the extreme weather events that will occur if average global temperature rises more than 1.5ºC.  

First we as a country and planet need to pick a target.  Each target has a cost associated with it.  The longer we wait, the higher the costs paid currently and the risks to future generations.  What price will current citizens pay to avoid future damages?  Will we aim for 1.5ºC, 2 ºC or 2.5ºC avg. global temperature rise?  What do future emission paths look like to attain those targets? 

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which Mr. Anderson thinks is too modest at a carbon emission reduction of 40 percent in ten years and 90 percent reduction by 2050 would get us onto a 1.5ºC emissions pathway. It is a far more aggressive reduction than those contemplated in the Paris Accord or the Clean Power Plan.  Although there is a pause on some regulations that are redundant under a carbon tax, HR 763 has a strict emissions schedule which will add regulations if targets are not met. 

Sweden and British Columbia have used carbon taxes to lower carbon dioxide emissions significantly but not to the level required to meet the 1.5º target. This is not a failure of the policy but of politicians to set the right price/tax. 

Carbon fee and dividend is not a “new and improved model.”  Economists for over 100 years have taught introductory students about pollution (Pigou) taxes.  What is different about this policy is the distribution of the revenue collected.  H.R. 763 returns the revenue to American households monthly on an equal basis in order to make it more equitable.  The carbon dividend protects lower– and middle-income households from price increases caused by the tax. 

Mr. Anderson incorrectly states that the same market forces that got us into this mess cannot solve climate change.  In fact, market forces have not been used.  Pricing pollution (Pigouvian tax) is the market solution and we have failed to implement a price on carbon dioxide pollution.  

 I am not aware, as Mr. Anderson contends, that the Green New Dealers and the Sunrise Movement have ruled out carbon pricing.  In fact, Representative Chellie Pingree has cosponsored the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and the Green New Deal resolution.  In an editorial on February 24, 2019, the Washington Post states a Green New Deal must “Start with carbon pricing. Then fill in the gaps.” 

 A carbon fee and dividend policy has been endorsed by over 3,500 economists (27 Nobel laureates, 4 Former Fed Chairs and 15 former Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers) as the most costeffective way to lower carbon emissions.  It is the best first step.   

Call Rep. Pingree and thank her for cosponsoring HR 763.  Call Sens. Collins and King and ask them to sponsor a similar bill in the Senate. 

Dodie Jones is a member of the local Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapter and a Brunswick resident. 

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