It’s been an interesting few weeks on the climate front in North America. With the backdrop of the “Occupy” movement, there were some small changes introduced that hopefully signal the start of an all-out campaign by our elected officials to tackle this issue head-on. First we had the formation of an all-party Climate Caucus in Ottawa, closely followed by the introduction of a bill in the U.S Congress that would place a fee on carbon. Here’s the response of Citizens Climate Lobby, a group dedicated to creating the political will for a sustainable climate, to the latest news out of Washington:
Citizens Climate Lobby Welcomes The Introduction of U.S. Save Our Climate Act
CORONADO, CALIF. – As the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions grows more evident each week, Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) welcomed the introduction of Rep. Pete Stark’s (D-CA) Save Our Climate Act as a critical step in efforts to stop the worst effects of climate change.
“We’re running out of time to wean our nation off the fossil fuels that are heating up the planet,” said CCL’s Executive Director Mark Reynolds. “We need to put a price on carbon that shifts energy usage to clean sources, and that’s what Congressman Stark’s bill does.”
The Save Our Climate Act, H.R. 3242, would tax coal, oil and gas based on the amount of carbon dioxide these fuels would emit when burned. Starting at $10 per ton of CO2, the tax would increase by $10 each year until CO2 emissions fall to 20 percent of 1990 levels. Most of the revenue from the Save Our Climate Act – an estimated $2.6 trillion in the first 10 years – would be returned to U.S. citizens as an annual rebate to offset higher energy costs. A portion of that revenue — $490 billion – would go toward deficit reduction.
“This is a revenue-neutral approach that Republicans should be able to embrace, as it will not increase the size of government,” said Reynolds. “What it WILL do is move massive amounts of investment money toward clean energy, expanding a sector of the economy that shows the most promise for producing the jobs Americans need.”
News of Stark’s legislation was warmly received in Canada. “We applaud Congressman Stark’s leadership on putting a price on carbon to transition the U.S. to a clean energy economy,” says Cathy Orlando, Project Manager for Citizens Climate Lobby Canada. “If successful they will join Australia and British Columbia on taking effective action on climate change and economic development. It’s time that Canada’s federal government also take similar action.”
The controversy surrounding the bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra has eroded U.S. support for government programs that subsidize clean energy. The Citizens Climate Lobby believes that a clear, predictable price signal on carbon will send private investors to wind, solar and other alternative technologies, reducing the need for government funding for emerging companies.
“When it comes to clean energy, we don’t want to kill the goose that’s laying the golden eggs in our economy. But perhaps somebody besides the federal government can feed the goose, and that’s what we’ll accomplish with a price on carbon,” said Reynolds.