En-ROADS shows the power of carbon pricing
By Flannery Winchester
CCL volunteers know just how powerful a carbon price can be, and we put a lot of time and energy into educating others about it. We chat about it at community events across America; we give presentations about it to civic clubs, churches, and student groups; and we’re always telling Congress about it.
In recent years, that outreach has been greatly enhanced by one tool in particular: the En-ROADS climate policy simulator, created by MIT and Climate Interactive. By toggling the policy inputs and seeing the resulting emissions cuts, anyone can easily model a mix of climate solutions and understand their impact.
Drew Jones, the head of Climate Interactive, was a guest on CCL’s national call to introduce the En-ROADS tool ahead of its launch in 2019. Jones explained that they intentionally set out to create an interactive tool that would show, not tell, the effectiveness of various climate policy options.
CCLers put En-ROADS into action
Helpfully for CCL, the En-ROADS model is very clear about the power of a carbon price. Jones calls a carbon price “a high leverage way to keep coal, oil, and gas in the ground in the near term.” The model shows that a carbon price would “therefore reduce temperature well below where it was expected to go to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change.”
Once En-ROADS was launched, our volunteers hit the ground running with the model and that strong carbon pricing message. CCL’s Action Tracker shows that volunteers have used En-ROADS in 486 outreach events in just the last two years.
Bill Blancato, CCL’s state coordinator in South Carolina, has demonstrated En-ROADS for the energy aide of Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC-05); the president and CEO of the NC Bankers Association; and an environmental reporter at the Winston-Salem Journal. Bill also used En-ROADS findings in a presentation to a local Rotary Club. He says, “I included a screenshot from En-ROADS in my powerpoint to help illustrate how carbon pricing will immediately reduce emissions.”
Lisa DelBuono, who co-leads CCL’s Health Action team, has put the tool to good use too. “We have done quite a few En-ROADS presentations to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, as well as to the general public and health groups,” she says.
And now, a group of CCLers is in the process of creating an En-ROADS Action Team to support each other in giving presentations with the tool. You can join the team to be notified of upcoming meetings.
Thought leaders lend their voices
Michael Sonnenfeldt is an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist who describes himself as “all climate, all the time.” He is the latest to speak up about the valuable insights this tool provides and use it to urge decision-makers toward action. In a recent video with The Climate Capitalist, Sonnenfeldt says, “We’ve taken it now to 250 governors, senators, congressmen.”
Sonnenfeldt says, “Virtually every economist will tell you that the carbon tax is the single most effective weapon in the fight for climate change,” and the model backs it up. In the video, he prompts, “Why don’t you open it up and run it through $100/ton? You see the 3.6 comes down to 2.9 centigrade. That’s a huge step. The carbon tax single handedly brought that down.”
We’ve already seen this policy approach work, Sonnenfeldt points out. “Forty years ago, we solved the problem with sulfur dioxide, called acid rain, using the equivalent of a pricing model. What was so amazing about it was that it solved the problem faster and cheaper than anybody could have imagined because it harnessed market forces. That’s what’s so powerful about a carbon tax.”
Folks like Sonnenfeldt — and, of course, our intrepid CCL volunteers — will continue to push for Congress to implement this powerful policy solution. Check out the En-ROADS simulator for yourself, and join the chorus of folks making the case for major climate action.