Putting a Price on Climate Pollution

In order to meaningfully address global warming, Oregon needs to join the global community in doing our fair share to transition climate pollution out of our everyday activities.

Courtesy of Sightline

Courtesy of Sightline

While we all take personal responsibility for reducing our impact on the environment by saving energy and getting our cars checked for smog, the companies who provide our heat, power and transportation fuels have not taken on their fair share of responsibility by offering clean options, reducing their output and accounting for the true price of climate pollution.

Science has told us how much climate pollution we need to prevent to keep on a safer and more stable path for the future. In 2007, Oregon adopted goals to match those safe targets, but we have yet to enforce them or hold anyone accountable to reach them. That’s why Oregon Environmental Council is working to enact overarching climate policies that put meaningful limits on climate pollution to protect our communities, forests, oceans, and families and hold polluters accountable for their impact on our communities.

The two best ways to comprehensively reduce climate pollution are to set enforceable limits and put a price on pollution.

Setting a Cap on Pollution

Putting a limit on pollution is fairly straightforward: set an end goal for how many reductions are needed and set a schedule to get there. This type of program creates certainty around the level of pollution that is allowed, and is the traditional method for curbing pollution. California’s cap-and-invest program uses this method. The state sets annual pollution limits.

But a cap-and-invest program also provides options for how companies reach these pollution targets. Companies that can reduce emissions quickly and inexpensively can trade their “extra” pollution reductions to companies that are making changes more slowly. This creates an economic incentive for efficient and clean energy innovation – clean companies get rewarded for their upgrades while other companies have more time to transition. As long as the total amount of pollution falls, the program is working.

California’s cap-and-invest program has worked well. It is reducing greenhouse gases while providing carbon revenue that is being reinvested in low carbon development, energy efficiency, and community-lead projects. The California program currently covers utilities and industrial emissions, and transportation fuels will be phased-in in 2015, making it the most comprehensive cap-and-trade program in the United States.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, is another cap-and-invest system in New England. The first such program in the United States, the RGGI is a collaboration between 10 states and covers their electricity sector. RGGI has created significant benefits for participating states, according to the Analysis Group because these states have used permit revenue to reinvest in energy efficiency and renewable energy development:

  • The 10-state regional economy gained $1.6 billion in economic growth with RGGI in place.
  • Reinvesting auction revenue into energy efficiency will create $1.3 billion in consumer energy savings.
  • More than 16,000 net jobs have been created.
  • Reduced fossil fuel use has kept $756 million in the local economy.

Pricing Climate Pollution

Another way to significantly reduce climate pollution is to assign it a fee or tax. Currently, climate pollution is freely dumped into the atmosphere and the damage from this pollution – from asthma to increased wildfires – is paid for by the general public in the form of disaster relief, health care costs and increased risk for businesses and the public. To correct this market failure, many economists support putting a price on climate pollution to reflect its true cost and as an efficient way to achieve results.

British Columbia established the first North American carbon tax in 2008. This program has successfully reduced climate pollution while at the same time, British Columbia’s economy has performed better than the Canadian average. In Oregon, a study by the Northwest Economic Research Center shows that a tax can be good for Oregon’s economy and environment as well.

In Oregon, climate pollution revenue reinvested into clean energy and energy efficiency projects will create local jobs, accelerate our clean economy and support local services. Some revenue should also be used to support low-income households. Revenue could also be used to offset income taxes invest in strengthening the economy across the state, increase resiliency to climate change or to support education, healthcare and public safety across the state.

Leaders from across governments and business are sending a clear message that climate change is a risk that cannot be ignored. By stepping up to account for the true cost of climate pollution – through either cap-and-invest or a price – Oregon will be joining a group of prosperous, forward-thinking states and regions that are looking to the future and solving our greatest environmental challenge.

Join the push for a real price on climate pollution. Sign the Renew Oregon pledge today.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Policy Featured Climate Protection Eco-Healthy Homes Toxics-Free Environments Air Quality Toxic Free Priorities Environmental Health Transportation Solutions OCAP News OCAP-Page Media/PR/Statements Rural Partnerships Carbon Sequestration Agriculture
Sort by
oregon mountain cloaked in clouds with pink hue from sunset

Speak Up For the Climate Protection Program (CPP)!

Last December, the oil and gas industry and their allies delivered a devastating blow to climate justice in our state.  The Oregon Court of Appeals invalidated Oregon’s landmark
May 7, 2024, 9:41 am
noraaoeconline-org

0

Building Climate Resilience with Better Buildings

Gazing at the downtown skyline of Portland? Rushing through PDX to catch a flight? Lost in the Silicon Forest? You probably aren’t thinking about how to reduce climate emissions. But Oregon’s large office, high-tech and public buildings are one of Oregon’s best opportunities to meet our climate goals by addressing our second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because the overall “carbon footprint” of
April 8, 2024, 4:36 pm
kevink

0

Broad coalition backs Governor and DEQ’s commitment to rapidly restore cornerstone Climate Protection Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 22, 2024 MEDIA CONTACT: Nora Apter, Oregon Environmental Council noraa@oeconline.org |
January 22, 2024, 11:22 am
mcadmin

0

A farmworker carries berries in a field

The Right to Refuse Dangerous Work: Another Victory for Worker Safety in a Warming Climate

Oregon has taken resolute action in protecting workers from dangerous conditions caused by the worsening climate crisis. On June 7, 2023, Governor Tina Kotek signed into law Senate Bill 907, the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work. This law builds a past victory for worker safety achieved by the OEC and coalition partners in implementing permanent heat and smoke rules, fortifying our state’s commitment to shielding workers from the dangers of an increasingly volatile  cl
June 27, 2023, 2:32 pm
jamie-pang

0

Governor Brown signing Climate Change Executive Order

Climate Champion: Governor Brown’s Legacy and the Path Ahead

A few years ago, the prospect of Oregon taking meaningful action on climate was dim. Republicans had just fled the capital to prevent the elected majority of state leaders from moving forward with a vote (a tactic now widely condemned by Oregon voters via Measure 113), effectively
February 14, 2023, 7:04 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

architect in hardhat working on wiring

New Initiatives for Safe, Affordable, Climate-Friendly Homes and Buildings

The 2023 legislative session presents a vital opportunity to make progress in achieving our climate goals and protect families and communities from ever-worsening climate impacts. OEC is excited to support a “Building Resilience” policy package this session that will cut pollution and increase the climate resilience of our homes and buildings  
January 23, 2023, 9:13 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

A farmworker carries berries in a field

Climate Protection Win for Oregon Workers

Industry plaintiffs brought two claims against rules to protect workers in Oregon from the harmful and dangerous impacts of exposure to heat and smoke. Both suits were dismissed “with prejudice” which means they were dismissed permanently and cannot be brought to Court again.   On December 20, 2022, the U.S. District Court in Medford dismissed
January 23, 2023, 8:03 pm
jamie-pang

0

Climate Victory! Oregon Clean Fuels Standard Now Strongest in the Nation

Oregon just took a huge step toward reducing climate and air pollution from our top emitting sector. The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) today adopted an expanded Clean Fuels Program, more than tripling our existing standard to make it the strongest in the nation. See our joint press release here.
September 23, 2022, 7:44 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

Coalition of State and National Groups Files Intervention to Defend Oregon’s Climate Protection Program Against Oil and Gas Industry Attack

For Immediate Release September 7, 2022 Salem, OR – A coalition of environmental justice, climate, and business organizations today filed a legal intervention
September 7, 2022, 9:01 pm
mcadmin

0


1 Reply to "Putting a Price on Climate Pollution"

  • Wendy Fitzgerald
    April 9, 2015 (5:11 pm)

    I learned that writing legislators a personal email can be more effective than simply signing an online petition, and I wanted to do so in support of the Carbon Pricing initiative, especially since I can’t be in Salem at the hearing. It’s unclear to me, however, what specific legislation and bill number I should write about to support. Is there a specific bill I can support and write about to my representative and legislator? (You might ask folks to write to their legislators in addition to signing the petitions in all events.)

    Thanks for your help and all your good work.