If present business-as-usual trends continue, it is certain that the U.S. and the world will experience an irreversible destruction of ecosystems. Climate tipping points will likely be reached within 10 years. The result will be economic collapse and extreme hardship for all but the wealthiest 10%.
World wide business-as-usual will result in over $1 trillion per year in direct climate event damage costs (1.6% of world GDP)---and this number will greatly increase as the situation worsens. Food supplies will decrease as population continues to rise—leading to starvation and wars for food. There will also be wars for diminishing fresh water supplies. Seacoast flooding and inland droughts will cause mass migrations.
As a compromise, can we just slow down the greenhouse emissions and have “semi” business-as usual?
NO! Because that might only delay reaching the tipping points by a few years. Once we reach the tipping points we’ll be on an irreversible slide toward collapse.
The only solution is to slow global warming enough to STOP climate change (hold CO2 equiv. to 350 ppm).
Can we stop climate change? The experts say we can do this by reducing fossil fuel use by 75%. Yes, that means fossil fuel companies must leave 75% of their reserves in the ground! This will cut CO2/methane emissions 80% from 2005 levels.
Won’t this decrease in fossil fuel use cause upheaval in our economy and citizen hardship? No! Not if it’s done right.
Category of the action
Reducing emissions from electric power sector.
What actions do you propose?
A. Eliminate all current energy industry federal subsidies. E.g. tax breaks, depletion allowances, loan guaranties, free insurance, no-interest loans.
- levels the playing field for energy sources.
- Knocks out nuclear power and corn ethanol.
- Lowers profitability of fossil fuel companies
- Saves taxpayers $80? Billion/year
B. Implement a revenue neutral carbon fee………. based on number of tons of CO2/methane emitted when fossil fuels are burned.
- Starting at $20/ton of CO2 equiv. and adding $15/year.
(Need scientific consensus on how much tax is needed).
- Will make fossil fuels significantly more expensive.
- Assessed at well or mine or border. Put into a trust fund where politicians can’t touch it.
- Will encourage utilities to switch to renewable power sources.
- Will cause big investment in energy efficient processes and devices.
- Could call it a “greenhouse gas emissions fee”.
- Will save future climate damage costs.
- It’s gradually phased in. Companies and people can plan their purchases.
-All U.S. households will be given a monthly “energy dividend” , e.g. $200, to offset the higher energy costs they will pay. Lowest 50% of earners will come out ahead and get a net “tax reduction”. Upper income people can buy high efficiency products –and break even.
- Mid and lower income people could be given 1% loans for new, “basic”, efficient cars, refrigerators, etc.
- Companies/schools would get back what they paid—to ease their transition to new energy sources---but only for 4 years.
- To keep companies from buying energy intensive components in China etc, and to encourage China to adopt its own carbon tax, a carbon tariff will be applied to the energy content of all U.S. imports. U.S. exporters may get a rebate.
- Part of the revenue raised could go to subsidizing production of U.S. renewable energy products and energy saving products we will export to developing countries to help them get off fossil fuels. A win-win for companies and aid.
- No carbon fee exclusions for specific industries.
- To sell the idea to Americans it must be revenue neutral or revenue dedicated. (Note: “cap and trade” won’t work because citizens won’t get money back)
C. All companies must bear the full cost of their pollution. E.g. their oil spills, methane leaks, chem spills, fly ash spills, toxic waste, non-recycled fracking fluid. EPA/DOE will monitor & assess fees.
- Gives companies an incentive to install proper pollution prevention equipment. (to save them $).
- Forces all companies to include all their costs in their product pricing
- Huge taxpayer savings
D. An NO2 tax and SO2 fee (similar to a carbon fee). Goal: to scrub all NO2 and SO2 from all power plants within 4 years. Since 1980 NO2 is down only 41%. SO2 only down 66%. Still get acid rain.
E. Fines for fertilizer and pesticide run off. One third of rivers and ½ of lakes are un- swimmable/fishable.
F. Make the federal gas tax flexible to create a minimum gas price of $7-8/gal. Revenue neutral. It would be dedicated to specific uses: repair of roads and bridges, fossil fuel health costs, incentives for new energy technologies. If OPEC/oil companies decide to drop the gas price to hurt new technologies, then the gas tax adjusts to maintain a $7-8 pump price.
G. Add a fee-bate program of consumer incentives. When buying a car or light truck, buyers will get an immediate rebate if they buy a high MPG vehicle in a given class (e.g. 4 person car) and pay an extra fee if buying a low MPG model. It will be revenue and technology neutral. No net taxpayer cost. Essential for innovation. Auto companies have assured demand. Retains consumer choice.
H. Change electric utility rules...... so they will make more money by helping consumers save electricity and moving to renewables…… rather than by selling more electricity.
I. The government will do the R&D on and coordinate a national smart electrical grid system.
J. The government will offer “x-prizes” and R&D subsidies to companies with the best new , low carbon or energy efficient products. Prize is proportional to production volume.
k. The government would regulate electric energy instead of the states. This would allow feed- in tariffs and better grid coordination.
L. Mandate new efficiency standards for processes, buildings and appliances
What will these energy policies do for us?
- Provide huge entrepreneurial incentives to stop climate change
- Create new industries ---with millions of good jobs--- so we can hopefully become the world experts in the future technologies.
- Help prevent costly catastrophic warming
- Improve our quality of life –- living in efficient cluster housing with shared parks and farms; driving electric cars or using mobility services;
- Give us less pollution and better health.
- Prevent wars for oil
Who will take these actions?
Due to pressure from a political movement, the President and congress will enact these measures
Where will these actions be taken?
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
What are other key benefits?
What are the proposal’s costs?
What will this plan’s net cost be to tax payers?
- Fee-bate and carbon fee programs are revenue neutral so net cost =0. Politicians can’t touch the money.
- Smart Grid R&D cost plus oversight and coordination by Dept of Energy. Cost=?
- X prizes. $1 billion?
- Cost to transition to more solar and wind systems, etc. is about $900B/year of private investment. Taxpayer cost=0.
- Low interest federal loans for new technology start up needs (e.g. batteries). Approx. break even.
- Cost of a new smart grid will be $trillions. But this is private investment and will be repaid with increased efficiency and less downtime. Taxpayer cost =0
- Private investment in energy saving methods like more insulation or more efficient pumps = about $150B/year--- but with a return of about 50% from fuel savings and less waste. Taxpayer cost=0
- Cost to retrain fossil fuel industry workers into workers in the fields of solar, wind, smart grid, electrical storage systems, high speed rail, etc. This cost shared by government and industry.
B. Savings and Benefits
1. Fossil fuel subsidy savings= $60B/year
2. Not buying foreign oil yields a trade deficit reduction of $220B/year
3. Freedom to not need a military presence in the Mid East could save $400-500B /year
4. Climate event avoidance would save $1.2Trillion/year (and this number will increase over time).
5. Revenue from an increased gasoline tax will be dedicated to fixing our crumbing infrastructure and for efficient high speed and light rail systems.
the new regulations and incentives are needed ASAP
Amory Lovins's "Reinventing fire"