How To Save The Climate In One Simple Step

There’s one simple step that will start to turn around around the climate crisis. Price carbon, get industry to pay the cost of their own pollution, and return the money collected to citizens. It can be done – British Columbia has introduced a carbon tax that includes a 15% reduction in the finance minister’s pay if all the money isn’t returned to citizens. And in the five year since the price on carbon was introduced B.C.’s economy has grown more than the rest of Canada and their emissions have decreased.

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Citizens’ Climate Lobby is laser-focused on creating the political will for a livable climate, and to empower its volunteers to have breakthroughs in claiming their personal and political power.

“Most impressive is the work of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. If you want to join the fight to save the planet, save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group.”

Dr. James Hansen, climate scientist, grandfather, and retired head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Click here to learn more about Citizens Climate Lobby or email me, christine@citizensclimatelobby.ca

If you want to join the fight to save the plane

Most impressive is the work of Citizens’ Climate Lobby…
If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save
cration for your grandchildren, there is no more
effective step you could take than becoming an active
member of this group.

t, to save

creation for your grandchildren, there is no more
effective step you could take than becoming an active
Most impressive is the work of Citizens’ Climate Lobby…
If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save
creation for your grandchildren, there is no more
effective step you could take than becoming an active

member of this group

Building Momentum For A Price On Carbon

Citizens’ Climate Lobby held its 5th Annual Conference in Washington DC June 22 – 24th.  It was my second international CCL conference; at last year’s meeting there were 365 CCLers from across the United States, with a few Canadians thrown in for good measure. This year the number of climate-concerned citizens nearly doubled, with 600 people attending the conference and lobbying days. visited About 500 congressional offices were visited throughout the week following the conference by  CCLers pressing for senators and congressmen and women to enact a carbon tax.

“Global warming is a problem that will change the American way of life and I don’t have the right to both acknowledge that and ignore it,” says CCL volunteer Brian Reynolds of Lincroft, New Jersey. “I came to Washington because voting and rallies aren’t enough. If you really understand this threat then you have a moral obligation to participate in that last, most important, bit of citizenship. This much and no less is required from those of us who care enough to want our way of life to continue.”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/100072405]

Surprise! Putting Price On Carbon Is A Job-Creating Bonanza

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SAN DIEGO, MARCH 3, 2014 – An aggressively-priced carbon tax in California, with revenue returned to the public, would actually grow the state’s economy and increase jobs, according to a new study released by Citizens Climate Lobby.

The study, prepared for CCL by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), looked at the economic impact of revenue-neutral taxes that start low and level off at $50-, $100- and $200-per-ton on carbon-dioxide emissions. In each case, the study examined two methods of revenue return – across the board cuts to income, sales and corporate taxes (ATB) and direct payments to households through a fee and dividend (FAD) system.

Under the most aggressive scenario – a carbon tax steadily rising to $200 per ton of carbon-dioxide by 2035 – the study found that the “tax swap” could add 300,000 jobs in California, increase annual GDP in 2035 by $18 billion, increase annual income by $16 billion by 2035, and reduce carbon emissions to less than 75% of 1990 levels.

“Detractors have said over and over that a carbon tax will tank the economy and kill jobs,” said Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens Climate Lobby. “This study blows that assumption out of the water. It shows that a carbon tax will actually create jobs and be good for the economy, provided the revenue from that tax is recycled back into the economy.”

Under the Fee and Dividend scenario – revenue returned directly to households – the $200-per-ton tax would see a net gain of 236,000 jobs in California by 2035 with GDP up by $2.5 billion annually.

The REMI study does not suggest that a carbon tax should replace California’s cap-and-trade system set up under AB 32. In fact, the study says “it is perfectly possible for the two to coexist and reinforce the same objectives of reducing carbon emissions (both policies).”

Last summer, REMI prepared a similar report about the effect of revenue-neutral carbon taxes in Massachusetts – the highest scenario $45 per ton of CO2 – which found that, like the California study, the state would see an increase in jobs and GDP. Since then, three of the five Democratic candidates for governor in Massachusetts have announced their support for a carbon tax.

“Economists from both ends of the political spectrum have argued that a carbon tax, with revenue returned to the public, is the most efficient and effective way to reduce emissions that are changing our climate,” said Reynolds. “We now have the studies to back up those assertions, and there will be more to come.”

Citizens Climate Lobby, a non-partisan advocacy organization with more than 150 chapters in North America, advocates for a national revenue-neutral carbon tax and will hold its 5th international conference in Washington D.C. June 22-24 2014. CCL plans to have volunteers meet with every congressional office on Capitol Hill.

More links:

Think Progress: Surprise! Even a Crazy-High Price On Carbon Would Help California Businesses

A Republican Talks About Changing The Dialogue On Energy & Climate

For this week’s TED Talk Tuesday, former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis spoke at TEDx Jacksonville earlier this year about energy and climate. Mr. Inglis is now the Executive Director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative based at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and is a champion of carbon fee and dividend.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/FUmcnxIQU24]

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Like to hear more from Mr. Inglis?  He was the guest speaker on the Citizens Climate Lobby monthly teleconference call in June, 2012. Click here to listen to that call.

Grassroot Activists Gather On Capitol Hill To Lobby For Carbon Tax

 

360 citizen lobbyists gather on Capitol Hill to ask for a carbon tax
360 citizen lobbyists gather on Capitol Hill to ask for a carbon tax

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It was no easy feat trying to keep my cool while racing in my high heels between Congressional and Senate offices in the scorching D.C. heat last Tuesday. More than once I wondered about the wisdom of leaving behind the comfortable Red Lake summer to join nearly four hundred other citizen lobbyists from across the U.S. and Canada who were fanned out across Capitol Hill, making the case to U.S. lawmakers that it was time to put a price on carbon pollution. Was all our effort worth it?

After my last appointment of the day, I walked back to the hotel with George, a commercial fisherman from Alaska. He talked about the devastating impact of the warmer and more acidic ocean on his livelihood. As we said goodbye and I gratefully stepped into the air conditioned hotel lobby, my attention fell on the newspaper headlines about Alberta, where people were losing lives as well as homes during that province’s second “100 year” flood in 8 years. I realized then that although my fellow climate lobbyists and I face an uphill battle to get a carbon fee and dividend bill passed, so did David when he and his slingshot faced off against Goliath. And you know how that story turned out. As Nelson Mandela so powerfully said, “It only seems impossible until it’s done.”

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M & C with Dr Jim Hansen. Washington.June 2013
With Dr James Hansen, climate scientist and climate hero. Dr Hansen was a keynote speaker at the CCL International Annual Meeting.

 

Politicians Fiddling While Planet Burns: Scientists Warn 400 PPM Milestone Ahead

scripps_400ppm_soonMay 2013-1

From Citizens Climate Lobby Canada:

MAY 1, 2013 – “For the first time in 3 million years [1], the average daily concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, is about to exceed 400 parts per million (PPM), a strong indication that the Canada and other nations must quickly implement policies to reduce greenhouse gases,” Citizens Climate Lobby said today.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has monitored and tracked the steady increase of CO2 concentrations as measured at Mauna Loa. Known as the Keeling Curve – named after scientist Charles David Keeling, who started monitoring CO2 in 1958 – these measurements show a steady increase of CO2 that parallels the use of fossil fuels. Prior to the Industrial Age, CO2 concentration fluctuated between 180 and 300 PPM.

In the past century, average global temperature has increased 0.8 degrees Celsius. Based on current rates of CO2 emissions, a World Bank report estimates the average global temperature could increase 4 degrees Celsius (about 7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Such warming will cause sea-level rise, more severe droughts and greater volatility in weather patterns, which in turn will result in displaced populations, food shortages, and greater damage from storms.

“This is one milestone no one should be happy about reaching,” said Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens Climate Lobby.

Cathy Orlando, Canada’s National Manager of  Citizens Climate Lobby added, “Fortunately we have technological solutions and economic plans available to avoid tragic consequences.”

In April 2013 the Conference Board of Canada released a report that outlined four plausible scenarios for energy in Canada taking into consideration the economic and social impacts of climate change. They suggested, “Canada’s priority in the short-term should be to put a significant price on carbon.”

In order to reduce Canadian emissions and encourage other nations to do the same, Citizens Climate Lobby has recommended passage of a steadily-increasing, revenue-neutral carbon tax that returns proceeds to the Canadian people.

In the USA, this proposal is supported by a number of conservatives, including former Secretary of State George Shultz, as a way to employ the power of the free market to shift away from the use of fossil fuels. Citizens Climate Lobby also recommends coupling the carbon tax with border adjustment tariffs on imports from nations that lack equivalent carbon pricing. This would provide the incentive for other nations to adopt their own carbon taxation.

“We have a solution that should have multi-partisan support. It’s time for Parliament to act. Nero is fiddling while Rome burns,” concluded Orlando.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/xFrTqn-PEXc]

Internalizing the Externalities of Fossil Fuels

It’s time to internalize the externalities of the fossil fuel industry. For far too long, the extremely high price we all pay in the pollution of our “commons” – air, water, and climate, which also affects the health of far too many of us, has been ignored by governments and the fossil fuel industry. Putting a steadily increasing price on carbon would be an excellent place to start to change this, as well as ending the taxpayer subsidies to dirty energy. Imagine your first carbon-dividend cheque; citizens benefiting from addressing climate change, while the polluter pays.

graphic: Citizens Climate Lobby Canada
graphic: Citizens Climate Lobby Canada

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The question isn’t if, but when, Canada puts a price on carbon. That we are getting close is clear by this news article in the Globe & Mail yesterday, about the Alberta government considering a significant carbon levy (it currently has a negligible $15 per tonne on industry carbon that exceeds certain levels). From an article in yesterday’s Globe & Mail, Alberta’s Bold Plan to Cut Emissions Stuns Ottawa and the Oil Industry:

The Alberta government has quietly presented a proposal to sharply increase levies on carbon production and force large oil-industry producers to slash greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 40 per cent on each barrel of production, a long-term plan that has surprised Ottawa and industry executives with its ambition.

It may not be time to get out the dance shoes yet, as Alberta’s Minister of the Environment, Diana McQueen, responded to the G & M article by saying Alberta is a “long way” from imposing higher carbon levies on the oil industry:

We are currently in the early stages of exploring a variety of options through a collaborative process with industry, the federal government and our department experts,” she said in a statement.

“These discussions are ongoing and revised targets have not yet been finalized.” (via Huff Post).

If you live in Alberta, please call or write Ms. McQueen or Premier Redford to show your support for pricing carbon (contact info listed below).

In the meantime, while I was typing this, a movement in our front yard caught my eye, and it turned out to be a beautiful red fox visiting. Before she disappeared into the bush, I snapped the picture below. I’m going to take it as a message to get off my computer and out into this beautiful sunny northern Ontario morning. Hope all of you  have a wonderful weekend, full of sunshine and connections with people and activities you love.

My Friday visitor
My Friday visitor

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More links/info:

Premier Alison Redford’s contact info: 780-427-2251, Alberta Minister of the Environment Diana McQueen: 780-427-2391. Or click on this link to send your Alberta MLA an email.

IMF, Citing $1.9 Trillion in Government Subsidies, Calls For End To Energy “Mispricing”

The Wall Street Journal: Climate Change Is The Risk that Intensifies All Others

Need more inspiration to take action? Remember the Exxon-Mobil pipeline rupture in Mayflower, Arkansas this week, and the shocking scenes of Alberta bitumen flooding residential neighbourhoods:

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dont worry arkansas
Graphic: Mike Rilestone

Our Carbon Pollution: Is It Different From Raw Sewage?

In a very short time – years or at most decades – humans will look back at our spewing of carbon pollution into the atmosphere with the same disgust and disbelief that we now look back on people in the middle ages in Europe who dumped their raw sewage into the streets. Here’s a recent video that makes tangible the carbon emissions that New York City spews out every day:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/DtqSIplGXOA]

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The good news is that Hurricane Sandy may have started a new discussion in the U.S. on climate change in general, and pricing carbon pollution in particular (sadly, in Canada we are lagging far behind. Our current federal government is intent on dragging us back into the 20th Century):

  • Speaking to Bloomberg News, oil and gas giant Exxon reiterated its support for a carbon tax yesterday. A spokeswoman for the company said that the tool could “play a significant role in addressing the challenge of rising emissions.” Click here to read full article.
  • The right wing American Enterprise Institute recently held a day-long conference on pricing carbon: Yesterday, the American Enterprise Institute hosted a conference to talk about anything and everything related to the economics of carbon taxes.  Normally, a full-day conference with more than a dozen speakers on a tax issue in DC will be lucky to get more than a few dozen attendees, even with a free lunch.  Carbon taxes, though, are different.  The enthusiasm for this issue is such that there were over 200 attendees, many of whom stood for half the day.

What makes carbon taxes different? Simply put, people across the political spectrum now know that putting a price on carbon is an indispensable tool for dealing with our climate and budget problems, and that a carbon tax is the most politically viable path forward.  This dynamic has created an exciting amount of momentum that now needs to be turned into policy. Read more on ThinkProgress.

  • This week, in an open letter, a coalition of the world’s largest investors (responsible for managing $22.5 trillion in assets) called on governments on Tuesday to ramp up action on climate change and boost clean-energy investment or risk trillions of dollars in investments and disruption to economies. They said rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions and more extreme weather were increasing investment risks globally.
  • The World Bank – now headed by a scientist, for the first time ever – released a report this week calling for urgent action on climate change. “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” warns we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.
  • On the good news front – the Tesla Model S won the 2013 Car of The Year award, the first electric car to win in the 60 year history of the award! Read more. Also under the heading of  “good news”, Harvard Students have voted to support their university’s divestment from the fossil fuel industry (read more).

It feels like we’re on the edge of a paradigm shift. What do you think?

International Energy Agency: Rising Fossil Energy Use Will Lead To Irreversible & Potentially Catastrophic Climate Change

The International Energy Agency released the 2011 World Energy Outlook yesterday.  What is almost as interesting as the report itself is the coverage of it in the MSM.

Here’s a summary of the report by the IEA itself in this video featuring Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency. At 2:49 of this summary Mr. Birol says

“Climate change: a crucial topic for the WEO. Then we look at the infrastructure of the energy sector, and we look at current investments. We see the risk of our energy sector being locked in and we have very little room to maneuver. We try to define it.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8NWnA64A_4]

Locked in to a dirty energy future indeed, thanks to the intransigence and greed of the fossil fuel industry. And yet, here is what the coverage of the WEO in the Vancouver Sun looked like yesterday. Entitled “Much-criticized oilsands key to global energy growth, international agency says”,  Peter O’Neil writes:

Alberta’s oilsands provide one of the world’s few areas of energy production growth outside the volatile Middle East and North Africa, though environmental concerns could hinder its expansion, the International Energy Agency said in a report Wednesday.

Quite the spin job, about a report that clearly states “the world is at risk of being locked into an ‘insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system’ that will lead to average temperature increases of 3.5 C“. The oil sands are part of that insecure and inefficient system.  Even the Calgary Herald, in the heart of oil country, was more honest with its headline for the same article by O’Neil, “Environmental concerns may hinder oilsands: IEA“.

Here’s what Think Progress’s Joe Romm had to say about the report:

IEA’s Bombshell Warning: We’re Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming and “Delaying Action Is a False Economy”:

The International Energy Agency has issued yet another clarion call for urgent action on climate.  Their 2011 World Energy Outlook [WEO] release should end once and for all any notion that delay is the rational course for the nation and the world.

The UK Guardian‘s headline captures the urgency:

World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns

If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change

We must start aggressively deploying clean energy now through myriad policies, including a price on carbon.  That has been the conclusion of most authoritative studies, of course,  including the recent one by California’s independent state science and technology advisory panel (see “Study Confirms Optimal Climate Strategy: Deploy, Deploy, Deploy, Research and Develop, Deploy, Deploy, Deploy“).

Yes, that graphic from the International Energy Agency says that Without further action, by 2017, all CO2 emissions will be “locked-in” by the existing infrastructure. As Romm says, the time has come to “deploy, deploy, deploy”, the same way economies were changed overnight in the face of World War II.  Who will lead?  Romm says we need a Churchill; perhaps he’s right. But maybe, for this global challenge, it’s the 99% that will provide the momentum for this change. Perhaps we don’t need one Churchill – we need thousands, or millions of Churchills, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther Kings, Ghandis, Wangari Maathais, etc.
More links:
Get empowered and work to create the political will for a sustainable climate – become a Citizens Climate Lobby volunteer.

Australia Leads In Climate Fight, Passes Carbon Tax

Australia’s Senate passed a comprehensive carbon pricing scheme yesterday, to the applause of members of the public who were present. Australia is one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas emitters per capita because of its heavy reliance on abundant reserves of coal to generate electricity. The country is also on the front lines of climate change. Who can forget the horribly destructive Queensland floods in January of this year, or the wildfires in 2009 that killed hundreds and destroyed thousands of homes?

Like Citizens Climate Lobby, I believe that the easiest way to put a price on carbon pollution is a carbon fee and dividend bill, but I am definitely not going to slam this historic legislation, which is a huge step in the right direction. To read more about how carbon fee and dividend works, go to Building a Green Economy: The Economics of Carbon Pricing and The Transition To Clean, Renewable Fuels.

From The Guardian:

Australia’s parliament has passed landmark laws to impose a price on carbon emissions in one of the biggest economic reforms in a decade, giving fresh impetus to December’s global climate talks in South Africa.

The scheme’s impact will be felt right across the economy, from miners to LNG producers, airlines and steel-makers and is aimed at making firms more energy-efficient and push power generation towards gas and renewables.

Australia accounts for just 1.5% of global emissions, but is the developed world’s highest emitter per capita due to a reliance on coal to generate electricity.

Australia’s finance minister, Penny Wong, told the upper house Senate as she wrapped up the marathon debate:

Today marks the beginning of Australia’s clean energy future. This is an historic moment, this is an historic reform, a reform that is long overdue.”

Deutsche Bank carbon analyst Tim Jordan stated:

This is a very positive step for the global effort on climate change. It shows that the world’s most emissions-intensive advanced economy is prepared to use a market mechanism to cut carbon emissions in a low-cost way.”

More links:

Australian Senate Passes Carbon Tax

Building A Green Economy: The Economics of Carbon Pricing and The Transition To Clean, Renewable Fuels.

Australia Passes Carbon Tax On Big Polluters