Opinion: Carbon pricing policy is the best route to meaningful progress

August 9, 2021

Steffi Rausch and Vaidila Satvika, GUEST COLUMNIST

 Since our founding fourteen years ago, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) has focused on one key mission: to empower everyday people to work together on climate change solutions and to build support in Congress to pass federal bipartisan climate legislation that puts a price on carbon, namely the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (www.energyinnovationact.org).

  The idea is simple. Put a fee on carbon pollution to incentivize a clean economy. The money collected from fossil fuel companies goes to Americans in the form of a monthly 'carbon cash back' payment so that everyone can afford the transition and reinvest in the economy. At the border, the policy is protected with a border carbon adjustment that charges a carbon fee on imported goods while providing a refund to American exporters. This is similar to what the European Union (EU) recently proposed and is needed to encourage other countries to adopt carbon pricing policies that level the playing field, especially with China and India. This is why the Senate is discussing a possible border carbon adjustment to be included in their budget reconciliation package. However, a border carbon adjustment without a carbon price is at risk of running afoul of global trade rules. This appears to be the beginning of a robust carbon pricing package.

It turns out that business interests are leveraging the current carbon pricing discussion in Congress. These discussions aren’t happening on their own. Change is afoot in Washington because locals in cities around the U.S. are demanding serious climate legislation. 

Over the last six months, we at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Asheville Chapter have been working with area business leaders to generate greater support for carbon pricing. In total, we have over 160 local business endorsements, including the Asheville City Council and the Western Carolina Medical Society (WCMS).

Vaidila Satvika agrees that a border carbon adjustment without a carbon price is at risk of running afoul of global trade rules.

  With the support of 26 local Chamber members, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce published a strong public statement on climate: “We support a market-based approach to accelerate GHG emissions reductions across the U.S. economy. We believe that durable climate policy must be made by Congress and that it should encourage innovation and investment to ensure significant emissions reductions while avoiding economic harm for businesses, consumers and disadvantaged communities.” This position largely aligns with the U.S. Chamber’s statement, the Business Roundtable, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and virtually all U.S. Economists.

  Bold statements, however, are not enough. We need to act on the climate science of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that urges change that limits global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050. To meet the goals of the IPCC, we need to implement many solutions; nevertheless, a market-based approach that includes carbon pricing has been proven to be the most effective. The API said it best: “Rather than a patchwork of federal and state regulations and mandates that could ineffectively address the climate challenge, an economy-wide government carbon price policy is the most impactful and transparent way to achieve meaningful progress.”

 Global momentum for carbon pricing is growing. According to the World Bank, there are 64 carbon pricing initiatives in place worldwide and 80% of U.S. imports come from countries that have already implemented their own carbon pricing programs.

However, the U.S. is one of two developed countries that does not yet have a price on carbon. If we are to remain economically competitive on a global scale, we need to adapt to a changing world.

  Join us in helping to make history. Let us follow the Asheville Chamber’s lead to be a part of the momentum needed to implement a market-based approach that can change the fate of humanity and protect our businesses, consumers and disadvantaged communities. It is time to contact your Senators and ask your neighbors and friends to do the same. In large numbers our collective voices impact legislative decision making. Take action today: www.cclusa.org/senate 

Steffi Rausch and Vaidila Satvika are CCL Volunteers.