Friday April 22 is Earth Day, a day when events are held worldwide to advance environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it is now celebrated in almost 200 countries.
Earth Day 2016 is special. The groundbreaking Paris Climate Agreement will be signed by the United States, China and some 120 other countries. World leaders realize we can’t stop using fossil fuels immediately but we must work urgently to transition to cleaner forms of energy.
Whether the United States continues to lead the international movement to stabilize the climate or destroys it is unclear. In absence of legislative action, President Obama and the EPA have taken administrative action to address the climate problem with the Clean Power Plan. The weakness of this approach is evident. The Supreme Court has put a hold on the plan until legal challenges have been resolved. Also, a new president could overturn the plan. A legislative plan is needed to insure a permanent plan. It needs to have bi-partisan support.
Most voters believe Republicans and Democrats in Congress need to work together. A legislative plan to reduce climate change might just be the place to start. Many think chances are slim that this dysfunctional and partisan Congress can work together to address climate change.
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Actually, it has already started to happen. Thirteen Republicans signed the Gibson Resolution (2015 HR 424) stating climate change could have a negative impact on our nation and Congress should start working on solutions. In February, a bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus was formed. In the Senate last October, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk and three other GOP Senators formed a Senate Energy and Environment Working Group to “focus on ways we can protect our environment and climate while also bolstering clean energy innovation that helps drive job creation.”
There is a growing consensus among world leaders and economists, that ending fossil fuel subsidies and putting a price on carbon are the most effective ways to stabilize the climate. If done right, it can reduce government involvement by relying on market forces.
The George Shultz’s so called insurance policy a.k.a. the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s (CCL) Carbon Fee and Dividend Plan is three times more effective in reducing power plant pollution than the EPA Clean Power Plan. CCL’s proposal is to charge a fee for carbon at its source (mine, well or border), and then rebate 100 percent of the revenues monthly to every U.S. household. Most people come out ahead.
Regional Economic Models, Inc., (REMI) found the CCL policy would achieve a 52 percent reduction in CO2 emissions and add 2.8 million jobs within 20 years. The CCL plan impacts the whole economy, not just power plant emissions. It is the only plan that would reduce greenhouse gases by 85 percent by 2050.
The congressional leaders concerned about the climate should celebrate Earth Day by studying the CCL proposal. Illinois Sen. Durbin and Reps. Shimkus, Davis, and Bost should join Sen. Kirk in taking climate change seriously and working toward a solution.