Maine thankfully avoided the worst with Tropical Storm Lee, but it could have been otherwise.

While the state of Maine and many individuals are stepping up to tackle climate change, it is disheartening to read about countries like India and China that are not; or about individuals who recklessly contribute to climate change with megayachts and extravagant lifestyles.

Well, there is something the U.S. could do. Called a carbon fee and dividend, it would put a “fee” on fossil fuels at their source, to reflect their damage to our climate. So, for example, prices for things like gas, apples from Fiji and bottled water from Italy would rise, relative to clean energy and apples and water from Maine.

To offset the pain of higher prices, the fees collected would be equally divided and distributed to all U.S. households every month. People whose lifestyles disproportionately ruin the climate would pay more in higher prices than the monthly dividend they get back. People whose lifestyles have less impact on the environment – that is, almost all middle- and lower-income families who consume less – would get more money back than they expended on higher prices.

As for India and China (and similar countries), they would be penalized with a border carbon tax. Faced with such fees, they would be incentivized to adopt their own effective carbon fees, moving them in the right direction, climate-wise.

Let’s take action that ensures that everyone is doing their part before the next “Lee” comes through.

Marcia Harrington

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