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Citizens' Climate Lobby

February 13, 2018

Climate change: intractable, vexing, global…. and solvable. Nicole Crescimanno Meehan of Citizens’ Climate Lobby talks about the carbon fee and dividend, a common sense, economic solution for climate change.  Citizens' Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization, is mobilizing everyday citizens to lobby their lawmakers for this solution which will reduce carbon emissions by at least 40% in the first 12 years. All we need is the political will to make it a reality.

What exactly is a carbon fee and dividend? It sounds wonky but in fact it’s a simple concept. A carbon fee and dividend places a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels (think coal, oil and gas), then returns that money to American households in the form of a monthly dividend. By putting money back in people’s pockets, the plan protects lower- and middle-income families as our country transitions to cleaner forms of energy. This plan is supported by prominent climate scientists, economists, and major corporations like General Motors and Exxon Mobil.

How does it work? The carbon fee is placed on coal, oil or natural gas as soon as it enters the U.S. economy (in other words, at the port, mine, well or pipeline). The fee starts at $15 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted and increases by $10 each year until emissions are cut by 90%. The fee is then returned every month to American residents in equal dividends. About 60% of American families will come out ahead, getting back more in the form of a dividend than they pay in increased energy costs.

How will this stop climate change? The carbon fee will motivate both businesses and consumers to reduce their carbon footprint. The increasing carbon price will stimulate invention and investment in clean energy.

Will this hurt our economy? No. In fact, 98% of economists agree that putting a price on carbon will promote efficiency and innovation, creating 2.1 million new jobs.  And we cannot overlook the massive costs to our society of doing nothing. Climate-related disasters cost $300 billion in 2017 in the US alone and fossil fuel air pollution kills 118,000 people and makes many thousands more sick every year in the United States.

Is this politically viable? The exciting news is that the first bipartisan climate legislation in a decade, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, has recently been introduced in Congress, and it features a carbon fee and dividend as its centerpiece. Because a carbon fee and dividend is revenue neutral it can appeal to both sides of the aisle. Republican luminaries such as former Secretaries of State George Schultz and James Baker and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have advanced a similar carbon fee and dividend planBut our representatives need to hear from us so they will support or co-sponsor the act. And if your representatives aren’t listening to you, vote for someone in the next election who will make climate change legislation a priority.

How can I get more involved? Call or write your state and national representatives and tell them you support a carbon fee and dividend. Post on their social media, asking them to "act on climate," using #actonclimate. Joinyour local chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. There is one in every congressional district in the United States and 50 countries around the world.Learn more by checking out Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s website.

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