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Proof That a Price on Carbon Works

I find that the New York Times, Jan. 19, 2016 Editorial Opinion On Carbon Pricing makes a credible case in favor of carbon pricing as a tool to combat increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Lawmakers who oppose taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions by putting a price on carbon often argue that doing so would hurt businesses and consumers. But the energy policies adopted by some American states and Canadian provinces demonstrate that those arguments are simply unfounded.
Around the world, nearly 40 nations, including the 28-member European Union, and many smaller jurisdictions are engaged in some form of carbon pricing. In this hemisphere, British Columbia, Quebec, California and nine Northeastern states have raised the cost of burning fossil fuels without damaging the economy. Alberta, Canada’s biggest oil and gas producer, and Ontario have said they will adopt similar policies.

Carbon pricing comes in two forms: a direct tax on emissions or a cap on emissions. British Columbia, for instance, has levied a tax on emissions from fuels like gasoline, natural gas and heating oil. California and Quebec, which are working together, place a ceiling on overall emissions and allow utilities, manufacturing plants, fuel distributors and others to buy and sell permits that entitle them to emit greenhouse gases. Like the cap itself, the number of permits decline over time, becoming more expensive.

Many economists regard carbon taxes as the simpler and more elegant solution, and cap-and-trade systems like the one that failed in the United States Congress as complex and hard to explain. But both systems effectively raise the price of using fossil fuels, which encourages utilities and other producers to generate more energy from low-carbon sources like solar, wind and nuclear power.

British Columbia, which is home to 4.7 million people, has placed the highest price on emissions in North America, taxing a ton of carbon emitted at 30 Canadian dollars, or about $21. By comparison, emission permits in California and Quebec are trading at about $13 a ton. And permits sold for $7.50 a ton in a December auction in the Northeastern trading system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. That system covers emissions from power plants in nine states that include Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.

British Columbia started taxing emissions in 2008. One big appeal of its system is that it is essentially revenue-neutral. People pay more for energy (the price of gasoline is up by about 17 cents a gallon) but pay less in personal income and corporate taxes. And low-income and rural residents get special tax credits. The tax has raised about $4.3 billion while other taxes have been cut by about $5 billion. Researchers have found that the tax helped cut emissions but has had no negative impact on the province’s growth rate, which has been about the same or slightly faster than the country as a whole in recent years.

Meanwhile, jurisdictions using the cap-and-trade approach like California, the nine Northeastern states and Quebec are investing the revenue generated by auctioning emission permits in mass transit, energy efficiency, renewable energy and other strategies to reduce carbon emissions. Some of the revenue is also dedicated to helping low-income families cope with higher energy costs.

In recent months, the leaders of Ontario and Manitoba said they would join the California-Quebec cap-and-trade system. In October, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said he was interested in linking the Northeastern system to the California-Quebec trading platform.

In Alberta, a new government announced in November that it would impose a tax of 30 Canadian dollars on most greenhouse gas emissions by the start of 2018. The province’s leaders also said they would phase out the use of coal power plants and impose caps on carbon and methane emissions from Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

These actions deserve applause. But their real value may lie in providing a template for the rest of the world. Broad participation is essential to keeping warming below a point of no return; as a practical matter, it is also essential to keep companies from moving their operations to nations that do not impose a cost on carbon emissions.

In that context, China’s announcement last year that it would set up a national cap-and-trade system was hugely encouraging — the world’s largest emitter agreeing to tax itself to help solve a problem that, only a few years ago, it barely acknowledged. Yet Congress has refused to act even as it becomes clear that putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions is the most direct and cost-effective way to address climate change.




What can you do?

Making a few small changes in your home and yard can reduce greenhouse gases and save you money. Explore our list of 10 simple steps you can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: (from U.S. EPA, http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/home.html)

1. Change five lights

Replace your five most frequently used light fixtures or the lightbulbs in them with ENERGY STAR® qualified products and you will help the environment while saving $70 a year on energy bills. ENERGY STAR lighting provides bright, warm light; generates 75% less heat; uses about 75% less energy than standard lighting; and lasts from 10 to 50 times longer.

2. Look for ENERGY STAR

When buying new products for your home, look for EPA’s ENERGY STAR label to help you make the most energy-efficient decision. You can find the ENERGY STAR label on more than 60 kinds of products, including appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment. Over their lifetime, products in your home that have earned the ENERGY STAR label can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 130,000 pounds and save you $11,000 on energy bills.

3. Heat and cool smartly

Heating and cooling accounts for almost half your energy bill–about $1,000 a year! There is a lot you can do to drive down this cost. Simple steps like changing air filters regularly, properly using a programmable thermostat, and having your heating and cooling equipment maintained annually by a licensed contractor can save energy and increase comfort, while helping to protect the environment. Depending on where you live, you can cut your annual energy bill by more than $200 by replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with ENERGY STAR-qualified equipment.

4. Seal and insulate your home

Reduce air leaks and stop drafts by using caulk, weather stripping, and insulation to seal your home’s envelope and add more insulation to your attic to block out heat and cold. A knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs and significantly enhance home comfort with comprehensive sealing and insulating measures.

5. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Reducing, reusing, and recycling in your home helps conserve energy and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from resource extraction, manufacturing, and disposal. If there is a recycling program in your community, recycle your newspapers, beverage containers, paper, and other goods. Also, composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Visit EPA’s Individual WAste Reduction Model (iWARM) to learn about the energy benefits of recycling, rather than landfilling, common waste products.

6. Use water efficiently

It takes lots of energy to pump, treat, and heat water, so saving water reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Saving water around the home is simple. Three percent of the nation’s energy is used to pump and treat water so conserving water conserves energy that reduces greenhouse gas pollution. Reduce the amount of waste you generate and the water you consume whenever possible. Pursue simple water-saving actions such as not letting the water run while shaving or brushing teeth and save money while conserving water by using products with the WaterSense label. Did you know a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day? Repair all toilet and faucet leaks right away. Running your dishwasher only with a full load can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide and $40 per year. Be smart when irrigating your lawn or landscape. Only water when needed, and do it during the coolest part of the day; early morning is best. See EPA’s WaterSense site for more water saving tips.

7. Be green in your yard

Composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. EPA’s GreenScapes program provides tips on how to improve your lawn or garden while also helping the environment.

8. Purchase green power

Power your home by purchasing green power. Green power is environmentally friendly electricity that is generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun. There are two ways to use green power: You can buy green power, or you can modify your house to generate your own green power. Buying green power is easy. It offers a number of environmental and economic benefits over conventional electricity, including lower greenhouse gas emissions, and it helps increase clean energy supply. There are a number of steps you can take to create a greener home , including installing solar panels and researching incentives for renewable energy in your state .

9. Calculate your household’s carbon footprint

Use EPA’s Household Carbon Footprint Calculator to estimate your household greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use, transportation, and waste disposal. This tool helps you understand where your emissions come from and identify ways to reduce them.

10. Spread the word

Tell family and friends that energy efficiency is good for their homes and good for the environment because it lowers greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Tell five people and together we can help our homes help us all.

Paris Talks2

Paris Talks Day 2 – – Talk, talk, talk….

Talks begin, again.  And Again. And Again.

It is action that matters.

We must all of us take the action that we can take.

It is our responsibility to each other and our mother earth.

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Op-ed: Without Congress’ support, Obama’s dealmaking powers in Paris are limited


John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and John Yoo, a professor of law at UC Berkeley, penned an op-ed in The Times today questioning President Obama’s ability to get legally binding carbon reductions approved by the U.S. Senate.

“Obama may rely on his unilateral authority to join a world climate pact, but without Congress his most important promises will be empty ones whose fate will be left to his successor,” they wrote.

Bolton and Yoo are affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, and each served in the George W. Bush administration.

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House votes to block new climate rules as Obama returns from Paris

California’s delegation voted along party lines Tuesday when the House passed two resolutions aimed at blocking President Obama’s carbon dioxide limits for power plants .

One resolution would stop the limits for existing power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan, which mandates a 32% cut in the power sector’s carbon emissions by 2030. The resolution passed 242-180.

The other would block the carbon limits for new power plants. It passed 235-188. Both resolutions began in the Senate, but needed House approval.

“Today, the House rejected the president’s false premise that a cleaner environment can only be achieved by arbitrary bureaucratic rules. As it always has, our success depends on freeing our economy, not tying it down with burdensome regulations,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said in a statement.

The restrictions were a big part of the pledge Obama made going into the Paris climate talks. When the Senate passed the resolutions in mid-November, the White House said Obama would veto them. The House vote came as Obama returned from Paris today.

Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) said House Republicans didn’t offer an alternative to the president’s Clean Power Plan.

“At a time when world leaders are coming together in Paris to reach a historic accord to slow climate change, Congress should be leading the way to support them, not undermining them,” he said in a statement.



Educate yourself and become part of The Great Turning. “Today we live in a time of great crisis, confronted by the gravest challenge that humanity has ever faced: the ecological consequences of our own collective karma. The scientific consensus is overwhelming: human activity is triggering environmental breakdown on a planetary scale.” (The Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change, http://www.oneearthsangha.org/articles/the-time-to-act-is-now/.)

There is plenty of evidence that we are approaching a sociological tipping point where more and more people are coming to understand the importance of doing something to change the direction our global culture is heading. It is clear that we cannot rely upon our elected leaders to make the required changes and that the change will have to rise up from the grass roots of society. This can only happen if we join with others.