March 2, 2017 Read More →

On the Blogs: Democrats and Republicans Alike See Job-Creation Power in Clean-Energy Transition

Scientific American:

Over the past two years, two thoughtful, innovative, and dramatically different plans to address global warming have been presented to the American public by the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Both plans would move the nation significantly toward a sustainable future.

The first, the Clean Power Plan (CPP), introduced by President Obama, calls on states to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 32 percent below their individual 2005 baselines by 2030. The CPP further makes $8 billion available to retrain and aid coal-workers and their families. This is a sizeable transition fund for an industry now valued in total at less than $50 billion, a tenth of what it was just a few decades ago.

The second, the Carbon Dividend Plan (CDP) was recently proposed by the Climate Leadership Council which is headlined by former Republican Secretaries of State James Baker and George Schultz, as well as former Treasury Secretary Paulson, two former Chairmen of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, and a Chairman of the Board of Walmart. The CDP calls for a modestly rising carbon tax, with dividends paid directly back to American families amounting to roughly $2,000 per year for a family of four.

Both plans have a great deal to like. The home run strategy for American job creation and industrial leadership is to implement both the CPP and the CDP.

The federal government estimates that the CPP will yield climate benefits to the U. S. economy of $20 billion, and health benefits of $14-34 billion, and to each year avoid 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days. With so many of these illnesses in lower-income areas and in minority communities, the CPP is of tremendous benefit to poorer Americans and to the national budget as well. To be fair, some, but not all, of these benefits would also come from the CDP, although they are less clear-cut because emissions reductions could come from other sectors of the economy beyond electricity.

The CDP includes a provision for boarder taxes on foreign imports from nations that do not implement some form of carbon pricing, presumably with a dispensation for the world’s poorest nations.

Together the CPP and the CDP build a vibrant, intensely job-creating energy sector that would be far larger than either plan accomplishes alone. The CPP does not pit one state against each other, but pushes each state to develop its own carbon reduction plan. Both red and blue states are finding this easier and more profitable than previously imagined. The power sector reduced its carbon emissions 21 percent between 2005-2015, primarily by switching from coal to gas. It is well on the way to complying with the Clean Power Plan.

Two very different action plans from opposite sides of the aisle could be even more effective if both are implemented

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