Todd Shuman Oped in the Ventura County Star Sunday January 3, 2016

CFROG Board Member & Climate Hub activist Todd Shuman

Oped in the Ventura County Star – Sunday January 3, 2016

 

Effective price for greenhouse gases required

TODD SHUMAN

GUEST COLUMNIST

If fossil fuels remain cheap in the near future, nations and corporations will continue to surrender to the temptation to exploit and burn them.

For this reason, the Ventura County Climate Hub (VCCH) believes that a steadily rising global price on fossil-fuel carbon must be established to help turn the climate around.

Carbon pricing serves the national interest by promoting public health, social justice and business reduction of carbon emissions. It encourages investment in clean energy and clean transport.

It will also help dissipate internal pressures to wage war, and it may even help eliminate some of the root causes of terrorism.

The newly-formed Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition aims to help every government establish carbon pricing policies to reduce emissions.

Members of this coalition argue that a carbon tax or fee approach is more effective than a cap-and-trade emissions reduction approach.

Even International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde is now a supporter of a carbon tax approach, stating: “A successful outcome to the Paris climate talks will send a powerful message that nations can work together …. The right carbon price should be at the center of this effort. Indeed, given the slump in energy prices, there has never beena better time to transition to smart, credible, and effective carbon pricing. Policymakers need to price it right, tax it smart, and do it now.”

The number of carbon pricing schemes around the world has almost doubled in three years. Soon, 40 nations will have a price on carbon.

The most politically feasible and effective policy for the U.S. will be the institution of a carbon fee. A carbon fee that also imposes border tariffs on goods from countries that lack an equivalent price on carbon will encourage other nations to institute their own carbon fees.

VCCH supports the 100 percent distribution of fee revenues as a dividend to all households. Economic forecasts show that low- and middle-income households can more than meet their needs with their dividends.

With carbon fee and dividend in place, cleanenergy business products and services become cheaper than fossil-fuel business products and services. The priceconscious purchasing power associated with dividend distribution drives an increasingly green economy. Communities ultimately become more able to implement robust renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

California should also institute a methane fee and dividend policy. This would reduce uncaptured, unburned methane emissions. Methane is a major factor in promoting the rapid warming of our planet.

One ton of atmospheric methane has the same heat-trapping effect as 86 tons of carbon dioxide over a period of 20 years. A fee on all significant sources of methane emission will stimulate development of new technologies that reduce methane emission. Since the livestock and dairy industries are usually the largest sources of methane emission in California, they should not be exempt from this fee.

Finally, the massive natural gas storage well blowout just north of Porter Ranch in the northern San Fernando Valley should trigger a hefty methane emissions fine. Nearly 2.5 million pounds of methane have been released each day from a single blown-out storage well since late October! This release is adversely impacting the health of nearby residents and will further the warming of our planet.

This blowout, along with the fugitive methane emissions from natural gas pipelines, provides compelling evidence for those who oppose proposed natural- gas-fired power plants like the Puente Project in Oxnard.

Natural gas- fired power plants encourage future statewide dependence on a fossil-fuel source that we can now see clearly as both dangerous to our neighbors’ health and dangerous to our planet’s climate.

Todd Shuman, of Camarillo, is chairman of the Methane Working Group for the Ventura County Climate Hub & Board Member CFROG. Send email to vcclimatehub@ gmail. com.


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