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Most economists agree that putting a price on carbon is the most efficient way to reduce the emissions that cause Global Warming. Here’s a good source for that. This could be done by having our state legislature approve a fee/tax and rebate program that makes dirty energy more expensive. For example, gasoline and fuel oil would cost more, so we’ll have the economic incentive to drive less, buy efficient cars, and weatherize our homes. And the people paying the fee/tax (us!) would get most or all of the money back. It’s a fair policy which doesn’t hurt citizens, businesses, or non-profits. Putting a price on carbon is being considered in 19 countries and in 5 other states. But MA can become the first state in the US to use this method of reducing Green House Gas emissions. There are living models to show that this type of policy works. For example, British Columbia introduced a fee and rebate in 2008. Their economy is doing great and carbon emissions are dropping.
Climate Action Now is an active member of the MA Campaign for a Clean Energy Future, a statewide coalition formed to get a carbon pricing bill passed. Here’s some background.
There are now two bills in the state legislature to put a price on carbon: S. 1786 introduced by Sen. Pacheco, and S. 1747 introduced by Sen. Barrett. There are differences between the two bills. Sen. Barrett’s bill is revenue neutral. It returns all revenues collected to households and organizations. It also has more details than Sen. Pacheco’s bill. Sen. Pacheco’s bill is revenue positive – it sets aside 20% to spend on clean energy and public transportation while giving back the other 80%. Sen. Pacheco’s strategy is to have a lively debate about the best policy choices before nailing down the details. To support this debate, he’s planning a series of statewide hearings. Also, as an author of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)of 2008 and Current Chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, Sen. Pacheco is concerned that our current policies will not meet the GWSA targets. That Act requires greenhouse gas emissions reductions to reach 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. At present levels of effort we’ll fall far short. So Sen. Pacheco is seeking to rally public attention towards the GWSA as a means to reduce carbon emissions.
The MA Campaign for a Clean Energy Future is currently promoting a statewide dialogue so the best legislation will emerge (rather than supporting one bill or the other). It is organizing house parties around the state to get these dialogues going, and Climate Action Now is collaborating in this effort both statewide and locally.
To support this dialogue, the Campaign has developed a set of basic principles to insure the law actually reduces GHG emissions; is fair to households, businesses, and institutions while it strengthens the Massachusetts economy by making our state energy efficient.
These principles are: (1) Have a big enough fee/tax rate to achieve a 25% reduction by 2020; (2) Phase-in gradually to allow people time to adjust; (3) Deal with all major sources of emissions: (4) Make sure low and moderate-income households receive at least as much money back in rebates as they pay in carbon fees/taxes; (5) Protect business competitiveness; (6) Provide additional help to vulnerable households (like people who have to drive more than average because of where they live or work); (7) Further protect all sectors (residents, businesses, and institutions like hospitals, churches, etc.); and (8) Possible use of some of the revenues for programs that meet essential public needs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs.
For more details on putting a fair price on carbon, contact Dave Roitman at firstname.lastname@example.org.