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Put the Market to Work to Fight Climate Change

EDITORIAL NOTE: This guest blog post was written by Diz Swift, member of the League of Women Voters of Berkeley-Albany-Emeryville

Like me, you probably know that one of the chief causes of climate change is the increase in greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane that are released into the atmosphere. As we mark another Earth Day, I am proud that the League of Women Voters is looking at ways to help reduce these gases and their impact on our climate. The League has been working to support the Administration’s Clean Power Plan, which will reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

But there’s another potential solution to reducing carbon emissions: putting a price on carbon. About 75 percent of carbon emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels. By putting a price on carbon emissions, we can put our powerful market to work to fight the biggest contributor to climate change. Essentially, putting a price on carbon encourages those emitting carbon to reduce their emissions by incurring a cost for the production of carbon gases. Countries across the world have found success in using this economic solution to encourage companies and consumers to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Cap and trade is perhaps the best known, but there are also others ways to apply a price on carbon, including a carbon tax.  

Putting a price on carbon emissions does two things: 1) it makes the use of fossil fuels that emit carbon less attractive, and 2) it makes alternative energies, like wind and solar more attractive, which in turn stimulates investment into their development.

Delegates to the 2014 LWVUS national convention voted overwhelmingly in support of putting a price on carbon emissions. Since that time, the League has looked for ways to support a price on carbon, while also supporting other initiatives to fight climate change. In order to better educate the League’s grassroots network and the public alike, I have worked with experts from across the country, to develop a website on the basics of what a price on carbon could mean for our country. Not surprisingly, the website is called PriceonCarbon.org.

As we go forward and seek to stop the damaging effects of climate change, we also have to prioritize keeping America’s economy strong. Beyond the obvious reasons of keeping people working, investment growing, and maintaining our standard of living, keeping the economy strong also allows for the significant investment that we’ll need for the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energies. And, we’re already on the path. Investments in wind, solar and other alternatives are growing rapidly, and consumer prices for them are dropping. Putting a price on carbon will accelerate the investment in these alternatives.

Putting a price on carbon emissions is not a Democratic or a Republican idea. In fact, both sides of the political spectrum are already advocating for it, including business people, economists and public figures. Putting a price on carbon emissions can move us toward a cleaner, cooler future. To do that, we must build a voice calling for a price on carbon – at all levels.

PriceonCarbon.org has been endorsed by the LWVUS Advocacy Committee.

To learn more about the work of the League of Women Voters of Berkeley-Albany-Emeryville, follow them on Facebook.