Marin CCL Newsletter
May 10, 2022
If images don't appear,

CCL exists to create the political will for climate solutions by enabling individual breakthroughs in the exercise of personal and political power. -- Mission Statement

PBS Frontline, known for its excellence, details the grim history of how the oil industry and their allies resisted and obstructed progress tackling the climate challenge, even though their scientists knew it would be catastrophic. First Doubt, then Denial, then Delay -- expertly accomplished.

This program won't alleviate your appropriate symptoms of climate anxiety, but it will put them in clear context. Fossil fuels have been both a gift from, and a force of nature, their allure more powerful than captive governments and concerned citizens. Humanity is thus up against a force of its own creation.

The series indirectly illustrates how desperately the world needs to attempt what it hasn't yet been able to: harness the power of money on a global scale to reduce demand for fossil fuels by causing their prices reflect their enormous damages. It's Econ 101 and what CCL has been advocating for over a decade. To the extent that we have yet to succeed, this series clarifies the monumental forces we're up against. (Ref: David v. Goliath, Old Testament.)

The lesson? The climate movement needs to finally focus on a single, understandable goal: an effective global carbon fee which also forms the foundational solution catalyzing all other downstream efforts such as environmental justice. Given the enormous power of money, without an effective carbon price, it's impossible to imagine a positive outcome. Help get it done.

American Petroleum Institute proposes carbon tax with rebates? Really?

April 21, 2022 – News broke in the Wall Street Journal that the American Petroleum Institute (API), the country’s largest trade association for the oil and gas industry, has drafted a proposal urging Congress to adopt a carbon tax with rebates to Americans. 

API correctly states that a carbon fee and dividend policy is “the most impactful and transparent way to achieve meaningful progress on the dual goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously ensuring continued economic growth.” 

After watching the Frontline series, see for yourself whether history allows you to feel suddenly hopeful or cautiously skeptical, and as our friend Sen. Whitehouse consistantly advises, "watch what they do, not what they say." Never the less, it's progress that might provide cover to some in Congress. Stay tuned.
While the world talks, the planet bakes:
This is why we need a global carbon price!
After 26 massive "Conferences of the Parties," (tens of thousands fly in), despite all the international agreements, (Kyoto, Copenhagen, Paris, now Glasgow), after so many self-congratulatory proclamations, grand promises and noble targets coming due decades later on someone else's watch -- here's what has happened with atmospheric CO2 and temps: Emissions continue to rapidly rise and it's getting hotter, fast. Those dark red zones represent dangerous failure. As people in South Asia are now experiencing, the deadly heat is unbearable.

There is no quick way to reverse this situation after decades of delay, but, assuming there's a livable future, isn't it time to try something different? Like, harnessing the global economy to the task of bending the emissions curve far more forcefully than the current United Nations' 196 national good intentions with no enforcement mechanism?

The U.N. simply can't solve this problem. They are not a world government. But the rules of global trade could. Carbon pricing coupled with border carbon adjustments (BCA) among the big emitters (US, China, EU) would incentivize effective global carbon pricing, and the vast amounts of money involved could move governments and people. Piecemeal domestic policies, while necessary supplements to a carbon tax, can't do it alone. But a US carbon tax with BCA could. The EU is considering one, so the US may soon be forced to enact its own carbon tax. Why not lead?
Wondering what's going on in DC?
You're not alone.

Congress seems distracted by multiple extremely serious concerns that appear to have pushed climate to the back burner (just as wildfire season descends on us.) Obviously Earth's climate system cares not about our distractions and continues to head towards a hothouse earth not seen in millions of years.

Join us at our monthly meeting on Saturday, May 14 at 9 AM to hear from Rep. Jared Huffman's new legislative director, Shane Trimmer, who will brief us on the state of play on climate legislation and other news. You'll have an opportunity to ask questions.
Then join the National call at 1000 for a presentation by  American Forests  discussing their work with tree cover in American cities and their work restoring forest health across the U.S., Mexico and Canada. It's here at 10:00 AM PT.

Here's written testimony by Marin CCL's Jonathan Marshall, Economic Research Coordinator, to this important committee. It's detailed and well worth reading, with some great graphics and quotations. Thank you, Jonathan.

"As usual, during supply shocks influenced by geopolitical crises such as wars or embargoes, Americans have become painfully aware that our nation’s unaddressed addiction to fossil fuels puts our “energy security” and well-being at risk. And just as usual, pundits offer very different solutions. This testimony will present evidence that, for the sake of America’s energy security among other reasons, strong federal policy is urgently needed to accelerate our transition away from fossil fuels toward efficient use of renewable and other alternative energy sources.

The single most effective policy, advocated by legions of economists, energy experts, and climate scientists, would be a steadily rising fee on the carbon content of climate-polluting fossil fuels. Such a predictable fee would send a strong signal to every participant in the economy to adopt low-carbon domestic energy alternatives that would minimize recurrences of our current pain and enhance our quality of life. It would also raise revenues that could be used to help households and communities manage the costs of this essential economic transition."

IPCC Calls Carbon Pricing 'Efficient And Effective'

What is the IPCC?

The IPCC, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was established in 1988 by the U.N. and World Meteorological Association to provide objective and comprehensive scientific information on anthropogenic climate change, including the natural, political, and economic impacts and risks, and possible response options. It does not conduct original research nor monitor climate change, but rather undertakes a periodic, systematic review of all relevant published literature. Thousands of scientists and other experts volunteer to review the data and compile key findings into "Assessment Reports" for policymakers and the general public; this has been described as the biggest peer review process in the scientific community...Its work is widely agreed upon by leading climate scientists as well as governments. -- Wikipedia

CCL Research Coordinator Dana Nuccitelli analyzes the latest IPCC report, highlighting the findings that a carbon price works both in theory and practice. These reports represent consensus documents agreed to by all the parties -- 196 countries.

“Economic theory suggests that carbon pricing policies are on the whole more cost effective than regulations or subsidies at reducing emissions”

“There is abundant evidence that carbon pricing policies reduce emissions. Statistical studies of emissions trends in jurisdictions with and without carbon pricing find a significant impact after controlling for other policies and structural factors. Numerous assessments of specific policies, especially the EU ETS (Emissions Trading System) and the British Columbia carbon tax, conclude that most have reduced emissions.”

London calling:
BBC Radio presents "Smoking Guns,"
a radio drama about IPCC politics
"The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." -- IPCC second assessment report, 1995

The first IPCC Assessment Report (AR-1) in 1990 concluded that "The unequivocal detection of the enhanced greenhouse effect was not likely for a decade or more," while predicting (accurately) that under a "business as usual" scenario, global mean temperature would increase by about 0.3 °C per decade during the 21st century. 

A few years later, as the lead convening author of the historic 1995 IPCC report which concluded that the signals of global warming had indeed been distinguished from the noise of natural variation, Dr. Ben Santer was attacked, both personally and professionally, by those desperate to not hear that message"The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate."

Undaunted, he courageously stood by the science and went on to a distinguished career as a climate modeler at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. His work contributed to this year's Nobel Prize in physics given to his mentor, Klaus Hasselmann, of the Max Planck Institute.

Three decades later, in the 2022 Sixth Assessment report, the world has officially agreed on the "unequivocal human influence on global climate," and that we're out of time. "The evidence is clear: the time for action is now."

Dr. Santer and his many colleagues have been vindicated by the evidence. The debate is over; the guilty verdict is in. We need to hurry up.

Listen to this personal and historical radio drama about a dedicated scientist who managed to haul himself out of a deep Alpine crevasse as a young climber, then refused to cave in to scary attacks from those who wanted to kill the messenger. (Dr. Santer also appears in part one of the Frontline series, above. Here's his superb presentation on CCL University about his work.)

S.F. Chronicle Editorial by Marin CCL's Ray Welch

"...what if Newsom’s one-time idea could be applied long-term, at the national level, and could also be used to reduce our exposure to fossil fuel price volatility while also fighting climate change?

It can — under a proposed program called “carbon fee and dividend,” sometimes known as “carbon cash-back.” And this self-funded program could be enacted either by legislation such as HR2307, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (now pending in Congress) or by including a version of it in a budget reconciliation bill."

Marin County Organizations Endorsing
As of 5/10/22

Crook Beales Design, Novato
Good Earth, Fairfax & Mill Valley
Jayli Imports, Point Reyes Station
KW Botanicals, San Anselmo
Marin Sanitary Service, San Rafael
Mikes Bikes, San Rafael
Mill Valley Refuse
San Rafael Airport, San Rafael
Solarcraft, Novato
The New Wheel, Larkspur
Wild Minimalist, San Rafael
Xtracycle, Mill Valley

Non-Profits and Governments
Rep. Jared Huffman, CA-02
Canal Alliance, San Rafael
Climate Now, Corte Madera
College of Marin, Kentfield
Indivisible Marin, San Rafael
Marin Bicycle Coalition, San Rafael
Marin Board of Supervisors, San Rafael 
MCE, San Rafael
North Bay Leadership Council, Marin & Sonoma Co's
Turning Green, Ross
"The Climate Movement Is In Its Own Way"
Carbon Tax Center

"The failures propping up US carbon emissions are multiple. Not just Senator Joe Manchin, who torpedoed President Biden’s Build Back Better clean-energy legislation. Not just the Senate Republicans, any one of whom could have cast the critical 50th vote. And not just Big Carbon, whose dark money and disinformation perpetuate climate inaction.

Through its own poor choices, the climate movement is failing as well.

Too many of our climate campaigns are ill-considered. Too much of our legislative agenda is narrow-gauged. Too often, our lens for assessing climate proposals is ideological rather than pragmatic...

A straightforward “price on carbon” — administered not via easily gamed cap-and-trade schemes but through “upstream” levies on the carbon content of fuels — was once thought appealing to left and right alike. It is now abjured by both.

The right, of course, is both repellently all-in on fossil fuels and hyper-aware that its wealthy base of profligate carbon consumers would pay the most through a carbon tax. Which makes the left’s antipathy to carbon taxes not just surprising but downright bizarre.

This hesitation has multiple strands: seeing carbon pricing as another contrivance of the predatory capitalism that built white wealth off the land and labor of Indigenous and African-descended peoples; suspicion that carbon pricing lets polluters avoid reducing local emissions by purchasing “offsets”; a misplaced conviction that carbon pricing in California has worsened pollution burdens on disadvantaged communities; and excessive faith that a regulatory approach can untangle the multiple strands that enforce fossil-fuel dependence.

Economic models abound to show how fast carbon taxes will shrink the use of fossil fuels. Models aren’t life, but they agree broadly that a robustly rising federal tax could, within a decade, dial back US emissions by about a third.
To turn our backs on carbon reductions on that scale is, I believe, suicidal.

April 18, 2022

"The United States has a patchy record on global warming. Abroad, it has stormed out of the global climate deals brokered under the auspices of the United Nations not once but twice—first under George W. Bush and then under Donald Trump. And at home, it is one of the few advanced economies without a coherent national climate policy. America has a higher greenhouse-gas intensity per person than any other OECD country save Australia. 

President Joe Biden promised to fix this mess by making climate change a priority. 

At the heart of this effort were two legislative proposals put to Congress last year: an infrastructure-focused bill and a social-policy and climate extravaganza dubbed Build Back Better, or just “BBB”. The former passed in November.. But though the latter passed the House of Representatives, it fell apart spectacularly in the Senate when Senator Joe Manchin, balked at the bill’s social-policy provisions and price tag. Mr Manchin declared as recently as February that BBB was “dead”. 

Do not perform the last rites quite yet. Reports are bubbling out of Congress that Democrats are working on a climate-focused version, jettisoning the social provisions that offend Mr Manchin, for consideration before Memorial Day...

Best of all, though, would be the introduction of an explicit price on carbon. This could be imposed economy-wide, and not just on the power sector, so that distortionary impacts were minimised. It could be structured as a carbon tax, starting modestly but rising in time to a level that bites—Canada’s carbon price is scheduled to rise to C$170 ($134) per tonne in 2030. And, to avoid allegations of big government and to prevent the tax from hurting the poor more than the rich, all revenues raised could be recycled as tax-refund cheques to households. That single bold act could do more to unleash America’s pent-up climate innovators than all of the blather spouted at UN conferences. Still, it is probably wise for America’s climate campaigners not to let that ideal be the enemy of Build Back Better.

The First Step Toward Saving the Planet Is Ignoring the Economists
Dr. Andrew Dessler
Professor, Geosciences Climate Change, Texas A&M University

The U.N.’s latest climate report shows that we don’t know how expensive the climate crisis will be, which means cost-benefit analyses weighing how to combat it are pointless

Most mainstream economists believe government action, such as a carbon tax, is a necessary step to taking on the climate crisis. But what if you’re an economist who doesn’t want the government to do anything? Perhaps you work for a libertarian think tank or a fossil fuel producer. Your job is literally to use the tools of economics to conclude that we don’t need any government intervention to address climate change. Luckily for you, economics offers a handy tool to reach the required conclusion: the cost-benefit analysis. 

Read Dr. Dessler's essay here, and attend his educational session with CCL on May 31 @ 5 PM PT here.

It's Back! Mark your calendar:
Washington, D.C., June 11-13,
live and online
Contact [email protected] for tabling info
You're invited, but...
This is how one behaves inside The Capitol:
Make an appointment. Business attire recommended. Bring nothing that even looks like a weapon.

If you know someone who would like to be added to this distribution list, please send their email after obtaining their permission, or better yet, have them join CCL.

Prepared by Peter G. Joseph, M.D. 
Apologies for cross postings