Your Turn: An ideal opportunity to tackle climate change

On Wednesday, five members of the U.S. House of Representatives from both parties introduced the most significant climate change legislation in over a decade. Sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is a climate solution that goes further than any national policy to date. We believe it will create over 2 million new jobs, lower health care costs, promote energy innovation and encourage consumer spending. It does so by applying a nationwide price on carbon emissions and returning the revenue to people each month. This approach is a climate change solution long advocated by both economists and climate scientists as the simplest, most effective approach to solving climate change. This bill seeks to lower carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent over the next 10 years.

The policy contains a border carbon adjustment on imports from nations that lack an equivalent carbon price, which would shield American businesses from unfair foreign competition and discourage U.S. companies from “offshoring” their carbon emissions. This is market-based.

If humans specialize in one thing, it’s taking on the impossible. The new political landscape in D.C. presents an opportunity to tackle climate change. Come January, Democrats will control the agenda in the House, from committees to floor votes. Several Democrats have waited years for the chance to move bills forward on climate change.

Despite a divided Congress, there is cause for optimism for Republican support for passage of legislation. The bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House, formed in 2016, has grown to 90 members in just two years. Before the election, the group included 45 Republicans who acknowledged the existence of human-caused climate change, and they were willing to seek the common ground on solutions. Many of these folks will be returning in the next Congress to continue this bipartisan work. Our congresswoman, Lynn Jenkins, who joined, did not seek re-election. Our new congressman, Steve Watkins, has stated that he believes climate change is real and favors a market-based solution.

Climate change is too much for you or any one of us to handle. You may ask: What can I do, as an individual, to save the planet? The most important thing you can do is be less of an individual. Become part of the environmental movement. We’ve won tons of fights, and this one will be one of the toughest ever.

Throughout America’s history, deep political divisions have always existed. But in times of enormous crisis — the Great Depression, the tyranny of global fascism in World War II, the threat of nuclear annihilation — our people have set aside their differences and come together to preserve the greater good. What’s at stake now is no less than preserving a livable world for our children and grandchildren.

Carbon Fee and Dividend is the policy that meets the challenge of climate change. Come on, people, let’s do the impossible. Encourage your elected officials to act.

— Tony Schmidt is state coordinator for the Citizens Climate Lobby.


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