In thinking about President Biden’s upcoming Earth Day Summit, I am struck by the double meaning of this homophone as both a “peak” and a “meeting.” The future sustainability of our planet requires success on both counts. World leaders must stake out 2021 as the peak for global greenhouse gas emissions and ensure the meeting lays out a framework for ratcheting emissions down by 50% by 2030.
Economists recommend a price on carbon as a best first step for emissions reductions. Combined with a carbon border adjustment on trade, a carbon tax/fee would encourage every country to have an emissions reduction policy in place. And, by returning tax revenues as dividends that protect low-and-middle-income households, countries can avoid opposition to rising fuel prices such as occurred with the 2018 yellow vests movement in France.
National fee-and-dividend policy is popular in Illinois with over two-thirds of voters in New Trier and Niles Townships supporting an April 6 ballot advisory question. Evanston’s Climate Action Resilience Plan encourages the City to support national strategies for “instituting limits on carbon, including market strategies such as a price on carbon.”
Some Illinois representatives have already introduced fee-and-dividend bills in this Congress – Representative Jan Schakowsky is an original co-sponsor of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Representative Marie Newman are sponsors of America’s Clean Future Fund Act.
Visualize a graph tracking the rapidly rising global annual emissions for the prior century, and then fast forward in your mind to its trajectory in 2030. It would be great to make 2021 the year of Biden’s Earth Day summit and the summit of global greenhouse gas emissions.
— Laura Winston