A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Teresa Werner: A major first step to reduce climate change — the Carbon Fee and Dividend

The past couple of weeks have brought us both good and bad news concerning climate change.

For the bad news, the recent UN-sponsored report on climate change describes a strong risk of a crisis as early as 2040.  In our area that translates to more extreme weather increasing the risk of droughts, flooding, heat waves and heavy rainfall which impacts our crop yields, water supplies, and health conditions. 

The UN report calls for serious reductions in carbon emissions to begin soon. This appears to be a daunting task as so much of our current economy and lifestyles are based on the use of fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) which emit carbon when used as an energy source.

Doug Bell, a volunteer with CCL, talks about the Carbon Fee and Dividend. (Photo provided)

On the good news side, Bill Nordhaus was just awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work over the last 4 decades on the value of using price signals to reduce carbon emissions. As the UN report has left many wondering about the best path forward to reduce carbon emissions without causing a huge economic upset, the economists have found a solution.  As happens in life, sometimes the simplest answer is the best one. 
A simple, market-based approach that doesn’t increase the national debt, doesn’t require environmental regulations and helps American households transition to new energy sources is available and the best way for the U.S. to transition towards more efficient and renewable energy sources. 

Along with other organizations, the non-partisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby which has local chapters in both Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky proposes a policy called Carbon Fee and Dividend. A Carbon Fee is placed on fossil fuels at their source with a consumer Dividend returning 100% of net revenue to US households monthly and a Border Adjustment rebating the Carbon Fee for relevant exporters and applying the Carbon Fee to relevant importers. 
Use of this price signal will encourage innovation in energy efficiency and new energy sources, allow market choice, and increase durable economic growth all while reducing carbon emissions. 

Canada has just announced that they are moving to a national Carbon Fee and Dividend while other nations have or are considering this solution. 

As our elected officials debate our best path forward, individuals and businesses should let them know that a market-based plan is preferred to more complex solutions involving tax incentives or environmental regulations. 

If you are in an organization that would like to hear more about this solution and schedule a presentation, please send an email to northernkentucky@citizensclimatelobby.org

Teresa Werner lives in Villa Hills. She is a mother of two and has worked for the last 31 years in telecommunications. After searching for an organization that was non-partisan, positive and respectfu, and had a good solution for climate change, she joined the Citizens’ Climate Lobby in 2017.

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One Comment

  1. Tony Potochnik says:

    This is obviously the way forward to address the climate crisis. I’ve read that Exxon also supports this type plan.

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