Climate change, like a recently diagnosed silent longstanding growing cancer, requires immediate, effective evidence-based medicine before it is too late to ensure our own and future generations’ good health, livelihoods, even existence.
As a retired radiologist worried about our current carbon induced ecological emergency, I joined Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), a nonprofit nonpartisan volunteer organization promoting carbon pricing as “action is the antidote to despair” (Joan Baez).
Since 2007, nearly 200,000 CCL volunteers continue to lobby our policymakers to urgently legislate the fastest, most effective treatment plan to decarbonize our warming planet through “cashback” carbon pricing, specifically, H.R 2307 — The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA).
Detractors of carbon pricing largely criticize existing carbon cap and trade policy results which to date have been complicated, compromised, and not as impactful in decarbonizing while not addressing environmental justice issues as would EICDA.
God (not the devil) is in the details. As in medicine, we must prescribe the correct dose, method, and speed of implementation of carbon pricing to be curative while staying aware of possible “side effect” unintended consequences. EICDA’s carbon pricing solution endorsed by 3600 climate scientists and economists is the right treatment protocol.
With carbon pricing, many politicians rightfully worry about our citizens experiencing higher costs for gas and energy. EICDA prescribes a “therapeutic dose” of annual increasing carbon fees to incentivize energy innovation away from higher cost warming fossil fuels toward clean renewable energy technologies. To answer our policymakers’ concern, EICDA has the US Treasury collect the carbon fees, which in turn, are fully passed on to each US citizen as a “dividend” especially helping middle — and lower-income households while taking our decarbonizing medicine to stop and reverse our “hyperthermic carbonization crisis” (aka global warming).
Instead of carbon pricing, oil and gas industries (except BP heavily transitioning toward renewables) are lobbying our policymakers for underground CO2 storage called “Carbon Capture, Use, & Sequestration” (CCUS) and hydrogen as their preferred climate solutions. However, these regimens risk increasing carbon emissions while keeping “Big Oil” in business-as-usual with much corporate “greenwashing” leading us down the wrong path when we are rapidly running out of time to avoid the dire impacts and costs of climate change. The Federal government has already spent billions in CCUS projects with delays, cost overruns, missed emission-reduction targets, and ultimately failure. The few CCUS projects still operating primarily use carbon capture for enhanced oil recovery processes lining Big Oil’s pockets and do nothing to solve the problem.
With Big Oil’s professional lobbyists and top dollar political campaign contributions, Congress’s infrastructure plan and reconciliation process now in consideration is poised to inject billions more into these CCUS and hydrogen expensive and energy intensive processes not suitable for our primary climate treatment plan.
Hydrogen energy is a promising future, but our current technology forces us to produce the vast majority of hydrogen fuel from fossil sources. Furthermore, we do not have the distribution infrastructure to support this.
The best climate strategy we have is to urgently and fully commit to “cashback” carbon pricing. EICDA is a great solution for inducing rapid innovative solutions much like our recent “Operation Warp Speed”—a public-private partnership initiated by the US government to facilitate and accelerate the development of effective vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnoses for COVID19. We already know that shifting from “dirty” to “clean” energy will work from solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, battery storage, energy efficiency, demand management, and future innovations.
The majority (72%) of Americans believe in our climate crisis with 1 in 3 of us affected by recent extreme weather events. We need the Biden administration and our Congressional policymakers to pull together and urgently pass carbon pricing legislation to cure us through deep decarbonization before it is too late. CCUS and hydrogen are not the technologies we need today. We shouldn’t waste more time or money chasing these Big Oil “bridges to nowhere”. Please follow this doctor’s orders: Call Senators Burr and Tillis and Rep. Ted Budd to support carbon pricing now.
Minta Phillips, MD is a volunteer with the Greensboro chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.