On Oct. 23, Lawrence University and the student organization Greenfire welcomed Dan Duffin from the organization Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). He gave a small talk on climate change, what his organization is doing to help combat it and some strategies that everyday citizens can use to try and assist.
CCL is a nonpartisan, international organization that seeks to find actionable solutions to our changing climate while respecting everyone along the way. Right now, a bill they have advocated for is pending in Congress. The bill is called the Carbon Fee and Dividend Policy (CFD), and it is designed to try and curb the continual use of fossil fuels while not placing the blame on the everyday person. The CFD will charge companies a fee at the source for extracting and burning fossil fuels, then redistribute that back to consumers, offsetting much of the cost to everyday folks. This refund would start at $288 per month for each person. However, the goal of the bill is to increase the fee charged to extractors of fuels each year. As such, the return would increase to almost $400 per month within 20 years.
According to Duffin, the power of this bill is that it would be “sticky,” meaning that it would not change or be eliminated with changing administrations. Part of the reason for that stickiness is the overwhelming benefits that are associated with the CFD. In a report done by the Remi Group, an economic institute, this bill could create millions of new jobs and over 70% of Americans would either be unaffected or see a direct monetary gain from the policy. Additionally, thanks to reduced emissions, the bill could save over 200,000 lives in just 20 years due to lower emissions.
While skepticism abounds with any bill that seeks to impose large changes like this, a similar initiative is already in place in Canada. After the policy was enacted in British Columbia in 2008, gasoline consumption dropped from 24 gallons per month in 2000 to just 20 gallons per month in 2015. With each increase in the tax rate on carbon dioxide emissions, the monthly gasoline consumption decreased significantly.
If getting involved in this issue sounds interesting, the biggest thing one can do is go to the meetings of Appleton’s local CCL chapter. Citizens can also write to Congress. Representatives and senators pay attention to the volume of letters, calls and emails they receive.