LETTER TO THE EDITOR: New strategy to address climate change

It is easy to get distracted by the daily news regarding the latest moves by the Trump administration.

So you may not have heard about a group of eight prominent Republican leaders (Climate Leadership Council), including two former Republican Secretaries of State, and two former Republican Secretaries of the Treasury who released a report early this month entitled “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends.”

In the report, these leading conservative economic thinkers have suggested a new strategy to address climate change. They point out that the evidence of climate change is too strong to ignore.

But they argue that the best way to address the problem is to harness market forces rather than imposing government regulations.

In brief, the idea is to apply a tax on carbon dioxide emissions (carbon tax) at the first point where fossil fuels enter the economy (coal mine, gas or oil well, port of entry). This would raise the cost of carbon-based energy.

Perhaps the most crucial part of the plan is that the revenue from this tax would be returned directly to all citizens of the United States (quarterly dividend). For most consumers here, this dividend would more than compensate for the increased costs of energy that would be passed on to the consumers because of the carbon tax (home heating/air conditioning costs, gas prices).

To prevent cheating, there would be a border adjustment to protect American competitiveness (rebates to American exporters, fees on foreign imports). This Republican leaders’ plan also shrinks government by phasing out the EPA’s regulatory authority.

The purpose of this move (fee & dividend plan) would be to reduce government regulation, create a market-based incentive to reduce carbon-based fuel use, and tip the balance toward alternative sources of energy. By returning a tax-free dividend to all Americans (instead of the government), the largest barrier to action, the resistance from consumers, will be removed.

Most of us will actually see no change in our net energy budgets, and if we make careful choices we will come out ahead. An incentive will be created for energy conservation strategies that reduce our dependence on oil. Thousands of new high paying jobs will be created in the emerging alternative energy industry.

I would welcome a plan like this to address the threat of accelerating climate disruption in a way that will not place a burden on the American taxpayers.

To get information consult: https://www.clcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2017/02/TheConservativeCaseforCarbonDividends.pdf

— Richard Bradley