Climate Change

 “The evidence is overwhelming:  Climate change is real, and humans are to blame.  Humans have dumped so much carbon dioxide into the air that concentrations are up 39 percent worldwide.(1)And the consequences are exactly what physics predicts.  Every single month since 1985 has been warmer than the historic average.(2)  All 12 of the warmest years on record have come in the last 15 years. (3)

We have to stop treating climate change like there’s doubt about the science. We must cap greenhouse gas emissions and end the assault that corporate interests are waging on our planet.” -- Rush Holt

Undeniable Science
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2001–2010 was the warmest decade on record.(4) In 2007, 552 billion tons of ice melted from the Greenland ice sheet, and at the current rate of warming, such melting would imperil the Eastern United States with massive sea level rise.(5)

Conditions in part of the Southwest and parts of the Midwest are reminiscent of dust bowl conditions.(6) Over the coming decades, climate change will disrupt global ecosystems, endanger the world’s food supply, and harm the international economy.(7)

Climate change not only poses a major challenge we must confront as an international community but also a problem the residents of each state, including New Jersey, must confront. Superstorm Sandy is among the latest in a series of extreme weather events that have hit the United States – including devastating wildfires in Colorado, severe tornadoes across the Midwest, and record-breaking temperatures that triggered massive droughts in 2011-2012.

The effects of climate change are already here – and they will only get worse if we fail to act.(8)

The Solution: A Carbon Tax
According to a recent IPCC report “most of the observed increase in…temperature since the mid-20th century is…due to the observed increase in anthropogenic concentrations [of greenhouse gases].” Of these greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide is the most significant, accounting for 75% of GHG emissions over the past 40 years.(9)

By imposing a tax upon carbon dioxide emissions, we could discourage release of this destructive greenhouse gas.  Over the course of the next two decades, a carbon tax could prevent the emission of 9.2 billion metric tons of CO2.  By mid-century, it could reduce U.S. emissions by a third.(10) According to the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Budget Office, implementation of a carbon tax would reduce the incidence of asthma and premature death in the US and also help prevent the acidification of the ocean.(11) (12)

Such a tax would allow the US to encourage developing nations to cut back on their emissions as they continue to grow into a major force in the global economy. (13)

Revenue to Help the Middle Class and Expand Green Technology
The CBO estimates that a tax of $20 per metric ton on GHG emissions raised at 5.6% per year would yield $1.2 trillion in revenue within a decade. Such revenue would exceed the amount the government currently receives from taxes on gasoline, tobacco and alcohol. (14)

Shoring Up the Middle Class
If deployed properly, such a carbon tax will help the middle class. The revenue raised from the tax could be used to avoid cuts to social programs such as Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. Alternatively, the money raised could go toward revenue-neutral relief on personal income taxes. (15) Estimates reveal that if only 18% of the carbon tax’s projected revenue were devoted to preventing its effect on low-income groups, the bottom 30% of earners would be unaffected by the program. (16)

A Green Energy Nudge
A carbon tax not only would help convince investors to move towards alternative energy but also would provide America with the jobs it needs. It would reduce the economy’s dependence on foreign oil obtained from volatile regions of the globe and create better market incentives for the use of renewable resources. (17) While the transition to an economy based entirely on renewable resources may seem far off, a carbon tax would encourage automobile consumers to buy more efficient vehicles instead of gas-guzzling SUVs in the short term. (18) According to Alan Binder, former Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, an investment in renewable energy spurred by a carbon tax would provide America with the jobs it needs because “jobs follow investment.” Furthermore, the jobs produce by the program “will be good jobs with good wages” that will provide the foundation for an advanced green economy. (19)

Simple and Clean
Best of all, a carbon tax is simple and would have an immediate effect on America’s carbon emissions. The recent cap and trade legislation in congress was over three hundred pages long and gave a pass to big business. In contrast, the most recent proposed carbon tax was only 17 pages in length and wouldn’t allow any industry to opt out. ( 20)

Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower-Income Americans,” Daniel J. Weiss, Director of Climate Strategy, American Progress, November 2012

Combating Global Climate Change: Why A Carbon Tax Is A Better Response To Global Warming Than Cap And Trade,” David M. Uhlmann, Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program, University of Michigan Law School, Stanford Envir. Law Journal, Vol. 28, No. 3, 2009

Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower-Income Americans,” Daniel J. Weiss, Director of Climate Strategy, American Progress, November 2012

Proposal 11: The Many Benefits of a Carbon Tax,” Adele C. Morris, Policy Director for Climate and Energy Economics, Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project, February 26th 2013

Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower-Income Americans,” Daniel J. Weiss, Director of Climate Strategy, American Progress, November 2012

Combating Global Climate Change: Why A Carbon Tax Is A Better Response To Global Warming Than Cap And Trade,” David M. Uhlmann, Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program, University of Michigan Law School, Stanford Envir. Law Journal, Vol. 28, No. 3, 2009

Proposal 11: The Many Benefits of a Carbon Tax,” Adele C. Morris, Policy Director for Climate and Energy Economics, Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project, February 26th 2013

Effects of a Carbon Tax on the Economy and the Environment,” CBO Report, Pub. No. 4532, May 22nd 2013

Carbon Tax: Deficit Reduction and Other Considerations,” Jonathan L. Ramseur et al., Specialist in Environmental Policy, Congressional Research Service, September 17th 2012

Proposal 11: The Many Benefits of a Carbon Tax,” Adele C. Morris, Policy Director for Climate and Energy Economics, Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project, February 26th 2013

Effects of a Carbon Tax on the Economy and the Environment,” CBO Report, Pub. No. 4532, May 22nd 2013

Carbon Tax Revenue and the Budget Deficit: A Win-Win-Win Solution?,” Sebastian Rausch and John Reilly, Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Report No. 228, August 2012

Proposal 11: The Many Benefits of a Carbon Tax,” Adele C. Morris, Policy Director for Climate and Energy Economics, Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project, February 26th 2013

Carbon Taxes as Part of the Fiscal Solution,” William G. Gale, Chair in Federal Economic Policy, Brookings Institution, March 2013

Carbon Tax Revenue and the Budget Deficit: A Win-Win-Win Solution?,” Sebastian Rausch and John Reilly, Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Report No. 228, August 2012

The Carbon Tax Miracle Cure,” Alan Binder, Professor of Economics & Public Affairs, Princeton University, Former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, January 31st 2011

Combating Global Climate Change: Why A Carbon Tax Is A Better Response To Global Warming Than Cap And Trade,” David M. Uhlmann, Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program, University of Michigan Law School, Stanford Envir. Law Journal, Vol. 28, No. 3, 2009