A Clear Price Signal to Visualize the Optimal Energy Investment Shift
[The Note for July 2014]
The single most significant obstacle to moving major investment capital into clean energy is uncertainty about the future market value of doing so. Will such a move put a business at a competitive advantage or at a relative disadvantage, if everyone else is buying cheap fuel that fits seamlessly into the prevailing infrastructure? What has long been missing is a way to move market-dominant private-sector capital into clean alternatives. In a sense, the biggest challenge everyone is facing, when thinking about the future, is how to visualize the future itself, and how to trust that one’s visualization is reliable. The most cost-effective and practically efficient way to do this is with a clear, decisive price signal that allows market players to more clearly visualize an optimal investment-transition trajectory.
Part 3: 7,200 Hours of Education for Principled Civics
With over 600 volunteers, spending between 8 and 16 hours learning, strategizing and coordinating, the 2014 Citizens’ Climate Lobby Conference provided roughly 7,200 total hours of education. That time empowers volunteers to do better work as citizens on Capitol Hill, but also delivers that training, through them, to our local groups, all across the United States.
The debate about climate change has, for too long, operated on the false premise that some scientists think one way, and some, who are equally qualified and experienced, think the opposite. This has led a large number of people, though by no means a majority, to believe climate science is pure theory. The fact is: no single issue in the history of observational science has been so widely peer-reviewed, by so many experts in so many fields, nearly all of whom concur that the actual, ongoing changes in the Earth’s climate are the direct result of the unregulated dumping of unnatural amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.
Climate Security Roundtable at American Legion discusses nexus between energy, water, food & national security
Brigadier General Gerald Galloway (ret.) set the tone for the June 27 discussion, explaining that “climate change is a threat multiplier” and will shape the future operating environment. Resource scarcity, extreme events and the costs of coping with disasters, are driving an increase in the opportunities for chaos and instability to take root. Gen. Galloway was joined by Rod Clifton (American Legion Post 291 Sustainability Officer, San Leon, Texas), Brendon Gehrke (Senior Legislative Associate for the Veterans of Foreign Wars), as well as representatives of the Earth Policy Institute and Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Part 2: Connecting with the Team
On Friday evening and through Saturday, I had the great good fortune to spend quality time with our committed and tireless staff. A relatively small group of people working extraordinary hours with energy the origins of which are hard to trace, all to make sure this work of getting citizens to Capitol Hill can be accomplished. Sorting through handouts, filling folders, making name tags, coordinating the calendar of events, and facing the merciless but vital chore of getting volunteers’ schedules for Hill meetings worked out, so we can maximize our impact, were the work of those last hours.
Part 1: The Road to Citizen Empowerment
The Fifth Annual Citizens’ Climate Lobby International Conference in Washington, DC, spanned a week, with meetings and events from morning till night. More than 600 citizen volunteer lobbyists traveled on their own dime to be part of this historic effort. In three days of lobbying, this incredible team had more than 520 meetings with members of Congress and their staff, as well as meetings at the World Bank and with stakeholder organizations.
If you have never gone to Capitol Hill, to speak with your government, you will likely not understand the power and the beauty of this experience. Conventional wisdom tells us that government is unapproachable and disinterested in the lives and ideas of ordinary people. In fact, the United States Congress is open to constituents, and the people working there are generally eager to hear from the people they represent.
[ The Note for June 2014 ]
The transition to a clean energy economy requires a number of significant changes to the status quo. Most central to motivating the transition is the project of revealing the hidden costs associated with how we get energy from carbon-based fuels. As it stands, the whole of civilization and a vast web of natural systems are financing the business model that makes lots of money for a few people and provides us with what appears, due to pervasive market distortions, to be cheap energy. The market fails in this way, because costs remain hidden from view. Consumers, businesses, investors and public policy planners cannot make appropriate decisions about cost efficiency, because they cannot see the costs in dollar amounts.
Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), one of the most respected economic modeling firms in the world, has produced a new study, using proven and reliable models, which shows that a steadily rising carbon fee returning 100% of revenues to households would create millions of new jobs, expand GDP and save hundreds of thousands of lives. In the first 10 years alone, the plan would generate 2.1 million net new jobs, across the entire US economy.
It is commonly thought that putting any kind of price on carbon emissions would cause costs to rise unbearably and the economy to slow disruptively. REMI’s new study The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power and Demographic Impact of a National Fee-and-Dividend Carbon Tax [pdf] shows that the manner in which the price is applied is what matters, and that getting it right can relieve and even reverse grave inefficiencies in our current market dynamic.
On the occasion of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat…
This is the time for courage and independence. The message inherent in the primary victory of a challenger over Majority Leader Eric Cantor is not that the Republican Party as a whole needs to be more radical or work against cooperative solutions. What individual lawmakers need to do, to learn the lesson of this historic surprise—and this includes Dave Brat, should he win in November—is to stand up and be counted as principled independent thinkers, free of the constraints of hardened ideology or big money interests, and demonstrate that they will consistently act to achieve pragmatic solutions that serve, liberate and uplift their constituents.
For many Americans, climate change has long seemed like something remote in space and time, a crisis that would affect people in other places a long time into the future. For skeptics, it seemed like we didn’t have to prioritize climate mitigation in order to build a secure and prosperous American republic, even when thinking decades into the future. We are only just now beginning to see that the destabilization of Earth’s climate system is bringing real impacts directly into our communities, in the here and now.
The Third National Climate Assessment, released last month, makes this clear: Climate change is happening now, and it is affecting our economy and our daily lives in disruptive ways, and costs of dealing with this ongoing destabilization will only increase over time. In fact, the report specifically finds that “The observed warming and other climatic changes are triggering wide-ranging impacts in every region of our country and throughout our economy.”