IT'S ABOUT TIME
By Jeff Stark
For decades environmental advocates, here on Maui and around the world, have felt that time was on our side. The topics that consumed us - climate change, global warming, loss of species, pollution, and more - were pressing but not necessarily imminent. We knew the overall situation was getting worse every day. However, we felt that, if we continued our educational and field activities, that we had time to reverse the trends that the global efforts of climate scientists were reporting. In most cases we were able to tell our audience and our colleagues that time was on our side. Unfortunately, that time has now come and gone.
We know this because the scientists that study all aspects of global environmental issues are now reporting that, if we are to avoid global catastrophe, we have no time to waste. According to the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC), in their latest annual report, we will be on a path to widespread environmental collapse if we do not reduce our burning of fossil fuels by 40% by the end of the next decade.
The IPCC effort to coordinate the science around global climate issues has been underway for nearly half a century. It has also spawned the Paris Accord, the most comprehensive international effort to date. Today Today the Paris Accord is composed of 197 member nations. It is noteworthy that our current administration has pulled out of this massively important effort. We are the only country with that distinction. Under any rational analysis the United States should, and has been in the past, among the leaders of this movement. Even if we believe the current Paris agreement cannot achieve its goals, the US should stay involved to ensure the best hope for success.
One result of this lack of support for environmental efforts, combined with the growing knowledge that time is running out, has been an upsurge in grass roots efforts. This has led a growing number of our fellow citizens to band together in environmental advocacy efforts. One of these efforts is known as the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). This organization is growing quickly with over 120,000 volunteers in local chapters in all 50 States. Together volunteers and staff have invested time and efforts to lobby for the organization's marquee effort - the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act -HR 763. This legislation currently has bipartisan support in the US Congress and counts over 38 members of the US House of Representatives as co-sponsors. Included is Congressperson Seth Moulton, a Presidential candidate. The Bill also has a Republican co-sponsor. They are supporting this legislation which, when enacted, could have a dramatic effect. Here is a brief overview of how the Bill would work:
This bill imposes a fee on the carbon content of fuels, including crude oil, natural gas, coal, or any other product derived from those fuels that will emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The fee is imposed on the producers or importers of the fuels. The rate begins at $15 a ton of CO2 pollution emitted beginning in 2020, and increases by $10 a ton each year, It is subject to further adjustments based on the progress in meeting specified emissions reduction targets. Supporters of the Bill believe that the effect of the Bill will be to accelerate the innovative use of renewable fuels and speed the transition to a renewable energy economy. Projections indicate that this Bill alone will result in a 40% decrease of greenhouse gases in 12 years.
Historically voter and industry objections to initiatives similar to this Bill have centered around the negative financial impact on consumers of so-called "carbon taxes." It has long been feared that the polluters would pass their costs on to consumers. The Carbon Dividend portion of this Bill presents an effective and exciting solution to this issue. Under the terms of the Bill all American citizens will receive an equally divided dividend, their portion of the funds collected. The funds will be collected and disbursed by a national trust. Thus consumers will be protected from the impact of higher prices.
There is no doubt that this bill has the potential to make a huge difference, for the better, in how we progress on our overall goal of transitioning to a low/no carbon renewable energy future. The question is, how can we help make this happen?
WHAT WE CAN DO
There is much more to be learned, and done, about this real-world solution to our global climate change issues. We can visit the Citizens Climate Lobby national website at www.citizensclimagelobby.org for an easy and effective method to WRITE or CALL our Representatives and Senators and encourage them to support this important legislation.
Here on Mauii the recently established Citizens Climate Lobby Maui chapter is growing quickly and will send a representative to join nearly 1,000 other volunteer lobbyists to Washington DC in June. Their job is to promote the CCL sponsored national climate change legislation and support Senators Maize Hirono and Brian Schatz and Congressional Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Ed Case who are leading the charge on climate change action. They can't keep up the fight without our support. It is an exciting effort, an important effort and will soon be a successful effort. Should you choose to join us it will be your effort as well. It is about time, and our time is now.