Carbon Pricing: How it could save the world (and save you money)

Weather Blog

FILE – In this July 27, 2018, file photo, the Dave Johnston coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyo. Wyoming’s governor is promoting a Trump administration study that says capturing carbon dioxide emitted by coal-fired power plants would be an economical way to curtail the pollution — findings questioned by a utility that owns the plants and wants to shift away from the fossil fuel in favor of wind and solar energy. Supporters say carbon capture would save coal by pumping carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas emitted by power plants — underground instead of into the atmosphere. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

Last week, nearly 40 nations attending COP26 pledged to transition their power grids away from coal power production. Disappointingly, the United States was not one of the pledges to do so. But, this does not mean all is lost.

Citizen’s Climate Lobby, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote national policies that address climate change, says putting a “price on carbon” can be the next best thing to switching to renewables.

What is carbon pricing?

According to The World Bank, carbon pricing is a tactic that puts a tax on the external costs of CO2 emission that is widely paid for by the general public. This can be through damage to crops, health care costs from heat waves and droughts and loss of property from flooding and sea level rise — and traces these costs back to the emitters in the form of a price on emitted CO2. The larger the emission of CO2, the higher the price.

Enforcing a carbon tax will essentially shift the burden that comes with large emissions of CO2 and greenhouse gasses away from the public (largely communities of color and low income families) to the ones who are responsible for it, and more importantly, the ones who are also equipped to reduce their own emissions at the cost of their own money.

In other words, instead of deciding who emits what, where and how, a carbon tax will allow businesses and industries to decide on their own to lower their emissions or continue business as usual but pay for their emissions.

The World Bank cites a carbon tax is the most flexible and cheapest route for our economy and society while also achieving the environmental goal of reducing CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions.

The New York Times reports renewable, clean energies such as solar and wind are now cheaper than carbon-emitting power sources such as coal, natural gas and oil. This means a money-saving snowball effect is possible with a carbon tax. It will can be the kickstart needed to invest in clean technologies, market innovation and low-carbon drivers of economic growth with lower energy and carbon tax costs. These savings can then be passed onto the consumer with lower prices on products.

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