Nearly everyone has heard about the Green New Deal because politicians are debating it on major networks everyday, but did you know that there is a bill already in Congress that could begin the solution to the ongoing climate crisis? It is a carbon fee and dividend bill that would place fees on carbon usage, redistributing those fees back to the public in the form of a monthly dividend check. (Learn everything you need to know at CitizensClimateLobby.org.)
I’m a member of the non-partisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a group that has over 500 chapters worldwide and has been focused on promoting a carbon fee and dividend to the public and our Congressmen for over 10 years. In June, hundreds of members will travel to Washington from all over the country to once again discuss the urgency of limiting this country’s carbon pollution.
HR 763 would reduce America’s emissions by at least 40 percent in the first 12 years. Economists and scientists believe it’s the most effective method to limit climate change. As a bonus, it’s estimated that it will create two million jobs to boost the economy.
Why is passing a carbon fee and dividend so urgent? Last year, the United Nations report on climate provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) states that we have only 10 to 12 years to limit our Co2 emissions before there will be catastrophic consequences. These consequences are already becoming apparent across the planet. Record temperatures, once in a hundred year storms that are occurring regularly, record droughts and forest fires and rising sea levels. The extinction rate for plants and animals is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than normal. Even the U.S. Navy is preparing its bases for the effects of these changes. The U.S. should have started reducing use of fossil fuels much sooner, so why haven’t we?
Companies like Exxon and Shell have known about the damage that excessive use of fossil fuels could create for over 40 years. They not only chose to bury the evidence, but they adopted a misinformation campaign to discredit the science, and they’ve contributed a great deal of money to many campaigns in order to sway legislation.
Sometimes, when I talk about the climate crisis, I feel like one of those crazy men on the street corner with a sign that says, “The world is ending!” It may not be ending, but it is definitely changing. When I first became an activist, the leaders of various groups said, “Don’t scare people, be positive.” And I am still positive. There is a huge youth movement beginning because they know their future is in danger, and they will not be ignored. They are demanding action. Many of our new politicians as well are forcing this issue to the forefront. There are hundreds of innovative ideas out there that could increase sustainability, such as paper made of bamboo (so trees can do the job they were meant to do), clothing made of hemp, pavements made with recycled plastic.
If every country worked in a partnership, we could create a world run on sustainable energy, with resulting successful economies.
What can you do? You can ask your U.S. congressmen to sponsor or at least support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, HR 763. You can also ask them to join the non-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus. You can email or call your senators asking them to support HR 763 so they understand that this is a priority issue. You can join or support local climate groups, such as Citizens’ Climate Lobby or 350.org. And you can ask your county commissioners about the Lincoln County Public/Private Climate Partnership. In Newport, you can ask your city councilors to support a sustainability committee like the ones already adopted in Lincoln City and Yachats and many other cities in Oregon, including Portland.
Many changes will take place in the next 20 years. Many decisions will be made concerning climate, population, waste management, agriculture and so much more. Let’s start making the right choices. Support HR 763.
Diane Pugh is a member of Citizen’s Climate Lobby. She lives in Newport.