There is no issue I am more passionate about than climate change. We know that this issue cannot, and will not, be dealt with by the free market without policy intervention, because it requires long-term thinking to deal with this issue before we feel its most catastrophic effects. We have a moral obligation to be responsible stewards of this planet, and climate change represents an existential threat to the planet and all its inhabitants. What’s worse: we’ve brought it on ourselves, with our unfettered greed and exploitation of Earth’s bounty.
I was appalled to see President Trump pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, which was one of the most substantial global agreements ever reached on climate change. This is a global issue; no matter how much the United States cuts its carbon emissions, it won’t matter unless other countries follow suit. It is inexcusable that we continue to spin our wheels, refusing to change our behavior even the slightest to prevent the untimely demise of the planet. We need to be leaders on this issue, inspiring other countries with our devotion to the cause. That’s why I’ve studied this issue so closely, and spent much of my career analyzing and advocating for responsible climate policy at Earth911, the Department of Energy, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
While we face a number of significant environmental challenges, including fracking and the building of new oil pipelines (both of which I strongly oppose), the most pressing concern is carbon emissions. Carbon released into the atmosphere from burning coal, gas, and oil is by far the biggest contributor to the steady rise in global temperatures that threatens our way of life. We must act quickly and decisively to limit our carbon emissions, and I will support any legislation that does so.
My preferred solution to limiting carbon emissions is establishing a national cap-and-trade system similar to the one proposed in the bill I worked on during my time at the White House Council on Environmental Quality in 2009. Such a system would take advantage of the best features of the free market, allowing reductions in carbon emissions to be made wherever it is cheapest and easiest to make them. It also guarantees that emissions are kept under the threshold required to prevent the worst effects of climate change.
I would also support a carbon tax of $30-$50 per ton of carbon emitted. This solution is simpler from an administrative perspective, but runs the risk of failing to reduce emissions enough, especially if the initial tax is set too low. It would also make for a rockier transition to a clean-energy economy, as those companies unable to reduce emissions would lack the options built into a cap-and-trade system. Any such policy would have to include provisions for vast worker re-training programs to help oil, coal, and gas workers transition to the new economy.
The beauty of these policies is that not only will they stave off the worst effects of climate change, they will also spur an economic boom in clean-energy industries. Even major oil companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil have devoted huge amounts of resources to preparing their businesses to compete in the green economy. They merely await a signal from our lawmakers to flip the switch. There is a massive opportunity here, and only Congress’ devotion to billionaires and lobbyists stands between us and a brighter, healthier tomorrow.
Paid for and Authorized by Ryan Huffman for Congress