Climate deal with China helps CCL push to price carbon

President Obama has announced a historic agreement with China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

President Obama has announced a historic agreement with China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Deal with China on climate change puts wind to our backs as CCL heads to the Hill

By Mark Reynolds 

Every time we go to Capitol Hill, it seems, the wind is at our backs.

In June of 2013, on the very day that we had 360 volunteers lobbying House and Senate offices for climate legislation, President Obama made a speech at Georgetown University to announce his Climate Action Plan, effectively putting Congress on notice that he was moving ahead to address global warming, with or without them.

Mark mugThis past June, when more than 600 volunteers from around the nation met with 507 congressional offices, the Environmental Protection Agency released its draft of rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The EPA’s announcement basically started the clock running, and Congress is now faced with a choice on climate change: Government regulations or market-based solution.

Next week, CCL staff and volunteers return to Washington to lobby key members of Congress. That lobby day will be followed by two days of briefings in the Senate and House on the study from Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), which shows that our proposal will not only get the necessary emissions reductions, but also add millions of jobs to the economy.

As we return to the Hill, fortune smiles on us once again.

Today, President Obama announced a deal between the U.S. and China to reduce carbon emissions. As the New York Times reports:

The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030…

As part of the agreement, Mr. Obama announced that the United States would emit 26 percent to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. That is double the pace of reduction it targeted for the period from 2005 to 2020.

The significance of this deal cannot be overstated. It provides tremendous momentum for the global process to reach an international agreement on climate change in Paris next year. From CCL’s standpoint, the timing could not be better, coming as it does less than a week from the day we meet with House and Senate offices.

For years, opponents of climate solutions have worn out two dubious talking points about pricing carbon: It will kill jobs. What about China?

The REMI study annihilates the first point, because it shows that a rising fee on carbon, with revenue returned to households, will actually stimulate job growth. With the agreement reached with China today, the second argument is also blown away.

What this means is that Congress has no more excuses for failing to put a price on carbon.

As I head to Washington this weekend and ponder this amazing coincidence – that the U.S. would reach a historic deal with China on climate change right before we lobby on the Hill – I’m reminded of a quote about the power of commitment. It comes from W.H. Murray talking about the Scottish Himalaya Expedition:

“But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money–booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

The power behind CCL’s commitment to solve climate change began when Marshall Saunders founded this organization seven years ago, and it continues to grow with each new member and chapter, with every letter we write and every conversation we have.

Mark Reynolds is Executive Director of Citizens Climate Lobby.

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