A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Commentary: We’ve taken important first steps in climate fight, but every citizen must embrace change


By Stephen McClanahan and Teresa Werner
Special to NKyTribune

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that the changing climate is accelerating at an alarming speed.

While this is worrying, there is one clear takeaway from the report: it is not too late – yet. We still have a small window of opportunity to reduce our emissions and avoid the worst consequences.

The challenge of a changing climate cuts across political lines, geographic borders, and all other boundaries. This is a global issue and demands bold action. Unfortunately, we’ve waited almost too long to begin in a serious manner; we must act now, with intention and long-term commitment.

Stephen McClanahan and Teresa Werner

It will take full citizen involvement to make the necessary changes. Many have studied how to move global economies off carbon-based energy sources; one of the best tools we have is to use the free market and let competition drive the discovery and development of sustainable energy sources to power our economy. In doing so, the transition will drive the changes in thousands of other aspects of daily lives that are needed.

Economists resoundingly agree the best mechanism to affect this action is to put an escalating price on carbon fuel sources; the fees collected are refunded equally to the citizenry. Thus, each household is free to make their own choices that balance the increased costs and refunded dividends.

Implementing a border adjustment will ensure our businesses stay competitive and other countries follow our lead. A carbon pricing policy provides a very clear and transparent market signal while protecting those most vulnerable, avoids the need for regulations, relies on the free, open market to find solutions.

While a wide-reaching policy such as carbon pricing is required to achieve the reduced carbon emissions target with the speed required, there are multiple additional policies that will help in our transition. We’d like to acknowledge an important first step in this long journey taken by the Senate with the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Specifically, we wish to thank Senator Rob Portman for leading the effort and Senator Mitch McConnell’s support to find common ground for a bill that will help all Americans. The funding in this bill for electric vehicle charging stations, public transportation, energy infrastructure and energy efficiency will help to reduce some of the emissions heating up our world. In addition, these policies will help improve air quality while creating jobs in a renewable energy future, the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century.

The first step on any journey is a hard one and it is great to see our nation heading down the path to a more stable climate with cleaner air, safer water, along with a robust economy.

Stephen McClanahan of Loveland, Ohio and Teresa Werner of Villa Hills are members of Northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati chapters of the non-partisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby group.


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One Comment

  1. Jean Christensen says:

    What are your expectations? How much are you willing to think it through and make every single change within your reach to avoid catastrophic change? A small window remains open. Think!

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