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How to Get a Price on Carbon

Posted: August 25, 2016 at 9:29 am by , in Featured, Morning Magazine

“We are in trouble. We are right now in a trajectory, in fact locked into a trajectory, to warm the atmosphere well above the 1.5 degrees centigrade that the Paris agreements call for.” -William Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project.

The U.S. is the second largest polluter of carbon in the atmosphere behind only China. William Becker has been working with the Presidential Climate Action Project determined to reduce carbon and slow climate change.

Becker talks with Maeve Conran about the issues surrounding carbon emissions and the different strategies the U.S. is taking to try and slow climate change. William Becker will be one of the speakers at The Alliance Center in Denver this week to discuss climate change in a panel moderated by Congresswoman Diana Degette.

“The idea of carbon pricing is to incorporate some of the real costs of carbon pollution in the prices we pay…. [W]hen we begin to pay that true cost, we’ll be more conservative.”

William Becker explains carbon pricing and the different models being used around the country. He also explains some of the advantages and disadvantages of these models.

 

Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens Climate Lobby says their organization is calling for a different approach to pricing carbon – a carbon fee and dividend.

“If you interview an economist and ask them if you want less of something, what’s the fastest way to do that? They say make it more expensive.  One of the examples we always cite is cigarette smoking.  Over half of Americans used to smoke and now way less than 20% do and economists will insist that’s because we increased the price of cigarettes.”

Carbon fees and dividends would impose a gradually rising fee on carbon based fuels based on the amount of CO2 it emits per ton and any greenhouse gas.  Reynolds says that their proposal is unique because rather than using that revenue to pay any government projects, or pay the government down or invest in any green energy, all the money would be given back to American households.

“If you put a fee on carbon, and anything you do to mitigate global warming has to include a fee on carbon, then costs are going to go up. So we want to make sure that households get all the money back so they can support the fee.”

Reynolds says that by giving the money back to American households rather than having government spend it in other ways, the fee cannot be viewed as a tax, which has been a roadblock to having Republicans support similar measures.

The Alliance Center will host the panel discussion “How to Get a Price on Carbon” on August 30th from 5:30-7:30. Other Panelists include Hunter Lovins, President of Natural Capitalism Solutions, and Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens Climate Lobby.

It will be located in the First Floor Event Space at The Alliance Center, 1536 Wynkoop St., Denver.