Citizens Building Political Will


Hello everyone. This is Emily Northrop an academic economist and a climate activist, who should I live until 2050 will be 95 years old, just for the record. This year I learned about and immediately became active in theCitizens climate Lobby, or CC. This direct political engagement has nudged to the side my expectation of utter climate catastrophe, and for me brought to the fore the vision for how to do better than some of the worst case scenarios. So I’m going to talk about the Citizens Climate Lobby and I’ll explain our policy focus, the carbon fee and dividend. I’m going to show you lots of slides. All the data and the studies that yielded them are available at our CCL webpage. You already know about the consequences of climate change. Something that I only recently learned about is depicted here with “sunny day flooding,” which occurs in many places on the east coast. This is Miami Beach. During the highest tides each month bay water backs up through the storm drain system and causes flooding. I’m going to make a connection later to this “sunny day flooding.” Here’s a global map that reflects some of the ethical dimensions of climate change. The red nations mostly in the global North indicate higher emissions per person; and this map red, mostly in the global South shows greater vulnerability to climate change. When you put those two maps together: those who contribute the least to greenhouse gases will be most impacted by climate change. We’re currently seeing how this will play out in the contrasting tragedies of the US and Haiti to Hurricane Matthew. As of today in the US 26 deaths have been attributed to the storm, and Haiti the reports that are that more than a thousand people have died, and cholera is now a huge concern. And as you know in rich nations poor people who have consumed and emitted so much less CO2 are more vulnerable to climate change. This is a Katrina couple who were left in New Orleans during the storm. He was on oxygen, and simply ran out, and died. So this is the beginning of the update portion of the presentation. Who is the Citizens Climate Lobby? Something of a CCL mantra is that politicians don’t create political will, they respond to it. We are about creating a more effective grassroots climate activism in order to get the policy that we need from our elected officials. The Citizens Climate Lobby was founded in 2007. It’s now a well established organization of citizens. We are international with the majority of our chapters and the US and Canada. We are nonpartisan. We are also nonprofit. Number 4: Our singular mission is to lobby Congress to pass a carbon fee and dividend; and number 5: effective lobbying entails building good relationships, civil discourse, listening and respect, looking for common values that we can build on; and all of these practices are also critical to effectively confront the tremendous challenges of climate mitigation and increasingly climate adaptation. George Schultz was Nixon’s Treasury Secretary and Reagan’s Secretary of State. He’s on our advisory board, as is James Hansen, the NASA scientist, who in 1988 warned the US Senate about human-caused climate change and has been outspoken ever since. CCL members meet with our members of Congress; that’s the most effective thing that we do, again building relationships with our elected officials, positive respectful listening hard for the commonalities that we can build on. We are 41,000 member strong. About 900 traveled to DC this past June for our lobby day. We visited in over 500 Congressional offices. Here was one such visit with Representative Roger Williams, second from your right, Texas US House District 25. In addition to lobbying we submit letters to the editor, we write op-eds, and work with editorial boards to support the carbon fee and dividend. And 2015 where we generated over 3,500 pieces of published media and those contributed to some of these endorsements. These are newspapers that endorsed either the CCL specific proposal of the carbon fee and dividend, or a more general carbon tax. We are organized into chapters. There’s over 300 chapters in the US and another 40 worldwide. The CCL is going to be highlighted in the upcoming episode of “Years of Living Dangerously,” which is a National Geographic channel series, so tune in on December 7, and as the National Geographic episode will relate, the CCL played a significant role in getting this bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus established earlier this year. The Caucus is in the US House of Representatives. There’s an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, and to join a member must bring along with them a member of the other party, so its membership will remain strictly bipartisan. The membership has recently increased to 20! The goals, the mandate is to educate their fellow members of Congress on climate change and to develop economically viable policy responses. Here’s a connection to the “sunny day flooding”: two of the founders, one a Republican and one a Democrat, both represent south Florida districts; and indeed, sea level rise occurs in both Republican and Democratic districts. So I’m just saying and you know it to be true: Shift does happen! So what is the CCL solution? We are advocating for national legislation to reduce CO2 emissions. Economists, myself included, support putting a price on carbon. That is, making carbon pollution more expensive will reduce it. The name of our proposal is the carbon fee and dividend. The fee will be placed on carbon based fuels at the source, and it starts at $15 per ton of CO2 emitted, and will increase steadily each year by $10, so the company that mines the coal or captures the natural gas or pumps the oil pay according to how much CO2 will be released when the fossil fuels are burned. This provides a clear market signal so businesses know what to expect and can plan. Clean energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels within a decade. This plan is revenue neutral, in that all of the money collected is returned to American households on an equal basis. It is not revenue for the government. In 48 States there is a legal distinction made between a tax and a fee. A tax has the primary purposes of raising revenue for the government; and that’s why we legitimately call our charge a fee rather than a tax, because the government does not keep the money as revenue. This is an important distinction, given the number of legislators who have signed a “no new taxes” pledge. So our proposal is a fee because it gives the money back. Third bullet: over half of all households will receive more in their dividend checks than they will pay and higher prices due to the fee. I’ll say more about that in a moment. Then the last bullet: there’s a border adjustment on goods imported from or exported to countries without a equivalent price on carbon, and this will be an incentive for other countries to also place the carbon fee on on their CO2. So here’s the same thing didn’t illustrated a little bit differently. So at the extraction point the extractors pay $15 per ton of CO2. That money goes right through the Treasury and out to households, but this means that anything that uses fossil fuel in its production is going to become more expensive to household, and that reduces the ability and incentive to purchase those goods. And non-fossil fuel products are going to become cheaper relatively speaking, so there’s more incentive to consume those. We hired the Regional Economic Models, Inc to do a study of the impacts of the carbon fee and dividend. This company uses the peer-reviewed methodology, and first of all, fewer fossil fuels will be burned and so emissions will decline. In 10 years CO2 emissions are reduced 31 percent below 1990 levels, and in 20 years they are reduced 50 percent below 1990 levels. This is better than our Paris commitment and for those of you who know, we need to do better than our Paris commitment! When fossil fuels are burned they release particular matter and that shortens people’s lives, so over 20 years 225,000 deaths would be avoided. The dividend provides an economic stimulus. As people spend it, it goes back into the economy and create jobs. Relative to having no carbon fee and dividend REMI projects that 2.8 million jobs will be created over 20 years. The GDP for the nation will be about $1.4 trillion higher than without the carbon fee and dividend. The dividend begins at about $44 a month for a family of four, and since the fee is going to rise each year, so will the dividend. We expect the dividend to be $300 per month for a family of four in ten years, and in 2035 it will reach nearly $400 a month. But of course households are also paying higher prices and this Figure shows the increase in purchasing power person after accounting for both getting the dividend, but also paying higher prices for the goods that we consume. This program will increase the purchasing power of the average person. These are the results from the second study called the Household Impact Study, and it is the effect on purchasing power both after receiving the dividend and after paying higher prices. At the left you see 53 percent of all households will have an increase in their purchasing power, so for them the dividend that they receive more than offsets the increases in prices that they face. Another nineteen percent will have just a very small loss in purchasing power of 0.2 percent or less. So overall 72 percent of households experience either an increase in purchasing power or a minor loss of no more than 0.2 percent. Then we can look by quintile. The lowest quintile is more likely to gain purchasing power. This is because they aren’t confronting the price increases that accompany taking air flights or cooling big houses ordriving big cars. But people in the upper quintile will face those extra expenses and so they are are less likely to gain purchasing power. The people in the middle quintile: 55-percent are expected to gain rather than lose purchasing power. By race and ethnicity, more than half in each group will do better, other than whites, and this reflects the higher average income of whites. Along the age distribution, the young and the elderly are more likely to gain purchasing power. So the carbon fee and dividend reduces emissions dramatically and on time, save lives, create jobs and increase production, increases purchasing power for most people! So to do a little direct lobbying to you: I hope that you will send one of these messages to your three Washington legislators, If you’re on board with the carbon fee and dividend, let them know. If not, please just let them know that you want them to act to address climate change. So thank you very much for your attention and I’m happy to discuss.

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