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Fixing climate change needs more than regulations

By Susan Riederer

Susan RiedererI arrived in Washington last week apprehensive as to how much we could accomplish. Our task was to convince congressional leaders and staff members that we had an idea worth considering. We were there to discuss our concerns about climate change and our specific solutions that would bring about significant reductions in CO2 emissions. I was one of 369 Citizen Climate Lobbyists who met with 435 members of Congress on that hot, sweltry day.

It was my first time doing this kind of work. I was intimidated initially by the challenge of talking to my representatives. After all, I am an amateur in this field. But I was driven to push through my fear because of the magnitude of the situation we are currently facing.

On that very day, President Barack Obama announced his new national climate action plan to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions. Obama’s plan includes establishing a carbon pollution standard for the coal industry and incentives for renewables.

While Obama’s plan is noteworthy, it falls way short of what needs to be done to reduce greenhouse gases quickly. The bottom line is regulations alone cannot address carbon pollution significantly, and their implementation will take years. Years we do not have. We need a market-based solution to climate change. A carbon tax is the best way to accomplish that task.

Citizens Climate Lobby, or CCL, supports a carbon tax with a twist. CCL proposes a revenue neutral carbon tax with a dividend that is returned to American households. This is simple, doable and does not expand the size of our government.

The tax would be placed at the source (well, mine, port of entry), steadily increasing each year so that clean energy would be cheaper than fossil fuels within a decade. This predictable increasing carbon price would send a clear message to the market, which would unleash entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean energy economy.

This market-based solution is the smart way to reduce carbon emissions quickly, make renewable energies competitive and grow jobs. In addition, the dividend back to American households would protect the poor and middle class from rising costs.

CCL believes we need our elected officials to be champions for a stable climate and that ordinary citizens have the power to make that happen. Through on-going training and support at the local, regional and national levels, citizens learn how to engage in a positive relationship with their representatives.

As Obama stated in his speech last week, “Our founders believed that those of us in positions of power are elected not to just serve as custodians of the present, but as caretakers of the future.” I would extend that statement to say that our founders also had a vision of empowering the people to have a voice about the country and in turn we also have a responsibility to serve as custodians of the present and as caretakers of the future.

I found my voice last week and intend to keep speaking out. CCL helped me deal with my fear in a positive, constructive way. Join me and others in this important work. Contact Citizens Climate Lobby for support. (citizens climatelobby@org). Stand up for reducing our use of fossils fuels now. Future generations are counting on us.

Susan Riederer lives in Boulder.

WEB LINK: http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20130723/OPINION04/307230026



Steve Valk
Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.