Want to decrease carbon? Put a price tag on it


A rather unexpected article appeared on the front page of the Sept. 30 Daily Herald, "Trump administration: Global temps will rise 7 degrees by 2100."

In a nutshell, a draft environmental impact report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration aid the problem is so big and fuel efficiency standards address such a small portion of the problem, that those standards should be relaxed. The benefit derived from these standards is 'just a very small drop in a very big, hot bucket.'

What are we to think? That the problem is too big to solve? That perceived effects on our economy are more important than our children's future? That we should just go about our busy lives?

I reject any of these possible conclusions. The challenge is great, but there are approaches to addressing climate change that are more effective than many, many regulations combined. Economists of all political persuasions have stated that putting a price on carbon is the most effective way to reduce the continued emission of carbon pollution. It would also correct an imbalance in the market -- that is, companies can produce a product without including the price of remediating the pollution it creates.

A steadily increasing fee on carbon would allow businesses to plan for increasing energy costs and to pursue innovative processes and energy sources that provide a competitive advantage. Net revenues would be returned as a monthly dividend to households on a per capita basis, blunting the effect of increasing costs for most middle- and low-income residents. And a border adjustment would level the playing field for American businesses that export goods.

Instituting a carbon fee and dividend will reduce carbon emissions and pollution-related deaths. In addition, because the dividend generally will be spent locally, it will modestly grow household incomes and increase employment.

Deni Mathews


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