I want to thank The Post and Courier for providing a forum for a lively discussion of climate change.
In his Aug. 14 opinion piece, “Dems abandon “moderate” climate plan for wish lists,” columnist Michael Graham states that Joe Biden’s Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution will require zero carbon emissions by 2050. As well it should.
The November 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that it will require reducing global carbon emissions to zero to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. It also cites the unmanageable impacts of exceeding that temperature rise. We are seeing it already. July 2019 was the hottest month on record globally and follows a string of record-breaking global-warming statistics.
Let us look at Mr. Graham’s numbers. He states that the Biden plan will cost $ 6.7 trillion. Over 30 years, that is a per capita impact of $830 per year. Given the rapidly dropping costs of renewable energy and storage, that figure is probably much too high.
But then he states that it will cost households in New Hampshire $37,454 per year. For this figure he cites the Heartland Institute, a Koch-funded defender of fossil fuel interests.
Without a doubt, getting to near-zero carbon emissions will entail changes, job gains and job losses and regional impacts, as would any big technology transition. Most of the opposition comes from the officers and stockholders of stranded fossil fuel assets and the legacy industries that depend on them.
Mr. Graham is right that we should not demonize the fossil energy industry that has contributed so much to our prosperity, mobility and comfort. On the other hand, we need to look to the future and encourage new clean energy technologies.
The best way to do that is to place an increasing fee on the carbon content of fossil fuel, levied on the primary producers, creating a powerful incentive for major energy users to de-carbonize their future energy investments.
Deployment of existing and emerging clean energy technologies will come through the free market with predictable price signals, not through government subsidies or protected utility monopolies.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) is the best version. It would reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 40 percent in the first 12 years.
All the revenue would be returned as a dividend to U.S. taxpayers on a per capita basis.
Economic models show that it would provide a net benefit to low-income families, add over 2 million jobs to the economy in nine years, and result in less than 2% of additional inflation over that time period.
Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Theodore Deutch, D-Fla., H.R. 763 has 58 co-sponsors in the House.
Let us encourage our elected officials to learn more and support this simple, rational plan to reduce carbon emissions and enhance U.S. leadership in the global effort to slow the rate of climate change.
Mark Gould is a retired environmental engineer who developed greenhouse gas emission models. He founded and is coordinator of the Charleston area chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.