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
Featured Air Quality Climate Protection OCAP-Page OCAP News Carbon Sequestration Agriculture Transportation Solutions Policy Diversity, Equity and Inclusion OEC News/Updates/Events OEC Membership Toxics-Free Environments
Sort by

Strengthening Oregon’s Climate Protection Program

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is getting closer to finalizing rules for a new Climate Protection Program. Over the past year, DEQ has made a number of positive changes to strengthen the rules; however, a few key policy design features still hang in the
August 31, 2021, 10:07 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

Windmills over green terrain

OEC & Partners Advocate to Strengthen the Climate Protection Program

July 16, 2021 Governor Kate Brown Office of the Governor 900 Court Street NE, Suite 254 Salem, OR 97301-4047 Director Richard Whitman Department of Environmental Quality 700 NE Multnomah St. Suite 600 Portland, OR 97232 Cc: Chair
August 3, 2021, 7:55 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

hands planting a small seedling in soil

Using Soil to Slow Climate Change

The economic demands on farmers and ranchers to maximize production on their land can inadvertently lead to damaging the soil. Unhealthy soil stores less carbon and depends on an increased use of chemicals and fertilizers which in turn can increase pollution and loss of soil to erosion. The good news is that the stewardship and determination of today’s agricultural producers can help solve these problems. And, under the 2020 Oregon Climate Action Plan, there i
July 29, 2021, 7:17 pm
klew

0

OEC and partners call on ODOT to consider climate and equity

July 14, 2021 Oregon Transportation Commission 355 Capitol Street, NE MS 11 Salem, Oregon 97301   Dear Chair Van Brocklin and members of the Oregon Transportation Commission: Our organizations write this letter as communities around the state are reporting dozens of deaths in the wake of a record-breaking heatwave while preparing for another summer and fall of destructive wildfires. Climate change is already bringing enormous human suffering to
July 15, 2021, 3:57 pm
saraw

0

Oregon Climate Action Plan: 2021 Progress Report

March 26, 2021, 12:11 am
noraaoeconline-org

0

Celebrating Year 1 of the Oregon Climate Action Plan

March 10, 2021, 7:51 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

Image of workers building a solar array

Federal climate action paves the way for progress

February 5, 2021, 7:25 pm
noraaoeconline-org

0

OHA Report: Climate Crisis a Current and Growing Threat to the Health of Oregonians

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) just released its “Climate and Health in Oregon 2020” report, documenting the public health impacts from climate change across Oregon. The report is the first thorough analysis of the health effects of climate change in Oregon since 2014, and is the first of three OHA deliverables directed under EO 20-04, the Oregon Climate Action Plan. The report findings are grim, confirming what OEC has been saying all along– that climate change is a public he
January 5, 2021, 8:15 pm
jamie-pang

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.