Let’s face it: Coming to grips with climate change is scary if doing so threatens the economic stability of your family. We all want to provide for our loved ones. This fear is used by the fossil fuel industry to argue that we can’t afford to transition more quickly to non-polluting renewables.
But step back and consider what we’re facing — sea-level rise, droughts, heat-waves, forest fires and pests, diseases — and it’s clear the reverse is true: Costs to each of us will be immeasurably higher the longer we wait to make the transition.
Increasing electrification and decreasing pollution from vehicles is not beneficial only for urban, granola-types; it will enhance long-term economic prospects for farmers, ranchers, fishers, and loggers as well. Folks whose income is closely tied to the whims of nature are more vulnerable to an angry climate than office-workers.
The simplest way to move toward the clean energy economy we ultimately need to maintain our living standard is to establish a national fee on the carbon content of fuels at the point of entry, starting modestly but increasing annually. Internalizing carbon’s true costs will grease the economy’s skids toward renewables. Further, by returning carbon fee revenues to all citizens, we can do so without burdening those least able to pay more.
Under Citizens Climate Lobby’s fee and dividend proposal, almost 2/3 of folks would receive more back than they spend on increased energy costs, all the while making the needed transition.