Marin Chapter Newsletter
November 2, 2020

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

We hope all of you are staying safe and sane. Our hearts go out to those affected by the fires, the virus and all their impacts. We must carry on with increased energy and focus.

At the age of 93, after a lifetime of exploring the natural world and bringing it into our homes, Sir David sounds the mass extinction alarm louder than ever. A huge element of that threat is global warming. He feels the ticking of the clock, both personally and for the diversity of life on Earth we humans depend upon.

Clearly we need to do many things to save ourselves, from ourselves. A fundamental action must be to honestly assess the cost of our garbage, paying for it in a way that doesn't harm people.

There's a reason why economists agree that only an effective carbon tax can harness the economy to work with us, rather than against us, for as long as fossil fuels remain artificially "cheap," no industrialized society can resist their allure.

Give yourself a break on election night and the days that follow and take in what might be Sir David's heartfelt swan song. He's begging us to heed his pleas. It's not yet too late.

See it all on Netflix.
Carbon Taxes Take a Beating

Those of us paying attention to matters other than the most pivotal election of our lifetimes, terrifying wildfires, toxic air pollution, increasingly dire news about the arctic and antarctic ice sheets, melting permafrost, mind-blowing temperature records, a hurricane season that has run the alphabet, and an unrelenting pandemic -- have also noted an unsubtle shift in the public discourse about the economists' consensus recommendation for reducing emissions -- a carbon tax.

Why is this happening?

Find out with the following interesting reads and presentations. The take home message is: beware of false narratives, cherry-picked facts, straw man arguments, political agendas, magical thinking, impatience and lack of grounding in economics. Trust the real experts.

Start here. See if you can spot the hidden flaws:

Then read the Carbon Tax Center's point by point rebuttal:

The Unique Power of carbon Taxes? These Climate Hawks Are Missing It

"Calling carbon taxing ineffectual is odd, when it’s barely been tried, and never at the triple-digit level ($100 or more per ton of carbon dioxide) that could slash emissions by a third or more. (The) article holds carbon pricing to a standard — closing down the U.S. and world fossil fuel sectors in a few decades — that no stand-alone policy could possibly meet. Their article also stereotypes carbon tax proponents as blinded by carbon pricing’s elegance, when what dazzles many of us is its potential to yield deep emission cuts while also neutering the fossil fuel companies."

followed by Niskanen Center's response:

"It is clear that almost any conceivable set of standards and regulations would operate more rapidly and efficiently if combined with a carbon price. A carbon price, combined with standards and regulations, could deliver meaningful emission reductions while minimizing the chances for administrative mistakes or malpractice. And while it has taken far too long to arrive, the coalition that can support such a combined policy is at hand."

Addressing social justice:

"A majority of the public is in favor of action on climate change, and putting a fee or tax on the carbon content of fossil fuels is generally accepted — including among conservatives — as a key method for reducing greenhouse gas emissions...Now some progressives insist that climate action also meet the goals of social and environmental justice. Because of that, some progressive groups have come out against “putting a price on carbon...” because they view it as a regressive tax that disproportionately affects lower income people...

While it is true that most carbon taxes are regressive, there is one carbon pricing policy that is actually anti-regressive and helps lower income people the most: Fee and Dividend...

Here is the key to Fee and Dividend: The money collected — every penny — is distributed as a dividend to all legal residents on an equal basis. The dividend will be substantial — a $100 per ton carbon fee with today’s fossil fuel use translates to about $5,500 per year for a family of four — a significant sum for lower income Americans. (Keep reading.)

No surprise: a predictably rising carbon fee, dividend and border carbon duty delivers equity, efficiency and effectiveness.

Dr. Hansen, known as "the grandfather of climate change awareness," is a member of CCL's advisory board.
What's Next for Progressives and Conservatives?
Tune into these two superb Citizens' Climate University presentations discussing the post-election environment for both progressives (start at 3 min) and conservatives (start at 10.45 min)
Take home message: in the end, moderates on both sides will control the debate (hopefully) and may get something done somewhere in the Far Middle, which might just be enduring. Prepare for compromise.
Now for some good news:

Rumors of the death of the carbon taxes are greatly exaggerated.
Robert Archer, Marin CCL steering committee, Co-chair of CCL's Economics Policy Network, former USAID energy economist

I. Support Growing for Carbon Pricing in the U.S. and Across the Globe

In a recent article titled “The World Has a Fever, UN Chief Suggests There’s a Consensus on Taxing Carbon and Slashing Emissions in Just 10 Years," Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General indicated a carbon tax is essential.

In a separate news release the UN calls for an increase in the use of carbon pricing.

There are five significant events recently that reinforce this view:

Thanks to California Representative Jerry McNerney, representing the Stockton area, for introducing the Consumer REBATE Act which places a price on carbon extracted from coal, oil, and natural gas and returns the revenue back to consumers.

Thanks also to Senator Dick Durban, the second ranking Democratic member of the Senate, for introducing “America’s Clean Future Fund Act” which includes a fee on carbon and rebates to households.

The U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Climate Risk Advisory Committee issued a report titled “Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System." The Report addresses the financial sector's failure to price investment risks properly. It recommends correction of this market failure through implementation of systemic carbon pricing. 

Business Roundtable, the association of major corporation CEOs, issued its policy statement stating:
“Addressing climate change and its impacts requires a robust, coordinated effort with a sound policy portfolio. Business Roundtable CEOs are calling for a well-designed market mechanism and supporting policies to provide certainty and unleash innovation to lift America toward a cleaner, brighter future.”

Finally, there is good news from abroad. The high-level UK Zero Carbon Commission issued its White Paper on carbon pricing calling for a carbon tax of at least $100/ton CO2 by 2030. It also shows how a carbon charge might contribute to a “green recovery” from COVID 19:
“A carbon charge…must be accompanied by a range of sensible legislation, regulation, and support for renewables and alternative low-emissions technologies if it is to succeed. But a carbon charge is the core around which these policies can most effectively operate.”
The current Conservative Government is actively weighing the carbon tax policy.
II. Debunking myths about carbon pricing

Misleading Narratives: The “Silver Bullet” 

The persistence of misleading narratives fogs the dialogue needed to arrive at effective, equitable and efficient climate policies.

One such narrative is that “a carbon tax is not a silver bullet.” Given that no single climate policy is ever a silver bullet, why is this narrative often applied to the carbon fee policy?

Opposition to a carbon fee comes from some progressives claiming it isn’t effective and conversely, from opponents who claim it will kill jobs and growth. Neither reflect reality

As a small organization, Citizens’ Climate Lobby chooses to focus its advocacy primarily on the fee and dividend. However, this does not mean opposition to other complementary policies. 

The carbon fee isn’t a silver bullet. It is, however, the most powerful broad-based foundational climate policy, significantly impacting 75% of the climate problem—emissions from coal, oil and gas. With the household dividend, it is the most equitable, efficient and effective single climate policy on the table.

For centuries pricing has been a powerful tool influencing consumption, investment and innovation. It is also widely recognized that markets don’t always work perfectly. In some situations, there are market and non-market impediments that keep carbon pricing from fully impacting consumption and investment decisions. 
Because of these impediments, the following policy guidelines can help identify which complementary subsidies, regulations and mandates are justified to supplement a carbon fee: 

(i) No Impact: Where a carbon fee does not impact a source of emissions e.g., forests and agriculture sequestration;
(ii) Inadequate Impact: Where the impact of a carbon fee is inadequate e.g., rental apartments where misaligned incentives between owner and tenant justify supplementary policies like building codes and energy efficiency programs;
(iii) Co-Benefits: Where a policy may bring only incremental emissions reductions but provide significant co-benefits e.g., improved air and health.

The “all of the above” indiscriminate approach of the past is unsustainable. Finding the set of policies that are effective, efficient and equitable is the challenge. 

Marin CCL membership meeting
Find out what our chapter is up to and how you can participate. We'll discuss what the election results means for climate activists going forward.
Saturday, November 14, 9 AM
RSVP here for the Zoom link

Followed by the National call at 10 AM
Details here

Sign up for CCL's "United We Move" Conference on Sat. Dec. 5th 10 - 2 pm PT

The Essentials:
Robert Archer
Yale trained, veteran USAID energy economist,
Marin CCL steering committee member and
Lead, CCL Economics Policy Network

Deeply understand the wisdom and functionality of carbon fee and dividend
Job Killer? Really? Nope.

"Is a carbon tax bad for the economy? While some opponents point to concerns about the economic impacts of such a policy, recent research concludes that carbon taxes have no adverse effects on GDP growth or total employment.

  • For a wide range of carbon tax specifications, there is no evidence of adverse effects on GDP growth or total employment.
  • Carbon taxes appear to have no long-run effect on growth rates.
  • A broad-based US carbon tax would likely cause greater emissions reductions than the carbon taxes in EU countries, as it would apply to industry sectors that, in the EU, are covered by the EU Cap and Trade System.
  • A $40-per-ton carbon tax covering 30 percent of emissions reduces emissions by roughly 4 to 6 percent. Because a US carbon tax would apply to more industry sectors than in the EU, this range would likely be the lower bound for emissions reductions for a US policy.
Listen to the experts:

"Climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy," the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission's climate subcommittee wrote.

...the single most important step to manage climate risk" is for the United States to set a "fair, economy-wide and effective" price on carbon." The goal would be to steer capital towards clean energy and ensure that markets are appropriately pricing the disruption caused by climate change.

The report is notable because it directly contradicts President Donald Trump's and other Republicans' downplaying of the consequences of climate change. The President has called climate change a "hoax," rolled back environmental regulations and even falsely claimed that wind mills cause cancer.

The report suggests the climate crisis could eventually turn into a financial crisis."

(No kidding!)

The Business Roundtable, a grouping of CEOs from some of the biggest US companies, has announced it supports market-based carbon pricing to fight climate change, a shift from the past when the group was divided on the issue.

The lobbying group, representing over 200 major US corporations ranging for Amazon to Chevron, said it supported slashing US greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 to help limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in line with the Paris Agreement.

"The new Business Roundtable position on climate change reflects our belief that a national market-based emissions reduction policy is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to levels designed to avoid the worst effects and mitigate the impacts of climate change," said the chief executive of Walmart and chairman of the Business Roundtable.

The move marks a shift from the group's earlier position on carbon pricing, when it declined to support legislation that would have established an economy-wide cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.

(While not endorsing any one pricing mechanism, all of their parameters are met by carbon fee, dividend and border duty, and by declining to endorse cap and trade, they are essentially recommending a carbon tax with dividends. -- PJ)
Temperatures Rising,
Alarm Bells Ringing,
Note the marked upward shift in "Alarmed". It must be getting hot out there.
Thank you, Clean Air Act!

No, a carbon tax does not do away with clean air regulations.
NYC, 1970
While sheltering in place, have you been active? (Yes, it's still possible.)
Better days: Bay Area CCL members with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe (front row, blue blazer, big smile) when she was awarded the 2018 Stephen Schneider Award by the Commonwealth Club, before social distancing became de rigeur.

If you've (safely) done something that qualifies as a CCL activity -- interactions with the media, the public, contact with elected representative -- please let us know. These important stats continue to be very impressive, despite the shutdowns. Please contact Ray Welch with details.
What's New with the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act?
It will soon be reintroduced in the next session
82 Congressional Cosponsors
614 Businesses
98 Faith Groups
100 Local governments
168 Nonprofits
21 News Media
384 Prominent Individuals
Wondering what works?
Become an expert modeler:

Learn from this deep, well documented and fun MIT model what works, how well and what doesn't in lowering emissions and eventual global temperature rise. You'll be surprised. (Trees? Not so much.)

A carbon price is the most powerful tool in the tool box but alone is insufficient. Multiple tools are needed, but without an effective price to incentivize and amplify their impacts, nothing else gets the job done -- not even close.
Please contribute to Marin CCL
Help cover printing and other expenses for tabling, outreach, youth participation, etc.
Send your (non-tax deductible) check to:
Marin Citizens' Climate Lobby
95 Central Avenue, Sausalito, CA 94965
If everyone contributed 10 bucks we'd be more than fine!

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