Exciting stuff happening.
Global climate hero Greta Thunberg recently drew a wildly enthusiastic crowd of thousands in downtown Iowa City. Seven hours on CNN were devoted to a Democratic presidential candidate forum on climate where our climate crisis was finally placed at the top of the national agenda. Multiple plans are now being offered by presidential candidates. Climate strikers all over the world are taking to the streets demanding immediate action to address this emergency.
In Iowa City our own dedicated young strikers, with the support of 100Grannies, parents, and many other citizens, have influenced the Iowa City Community School Board, the Iowa City Council and the University of Iowa to revisit and upgrade their climate action plans and strategies.
Even as we witness daily some of the most horrific consequences of a changing climate, there are strong indications of progress. Many cities, corporations and communities are making huge commitments to reduce carbon output. Citizens’ awareness and personal choices are gradually shifting, technological innovations are popping up and renewable energy is exploding.
The question remains: will it be enough and will it be soon enough?
Even with all these positive indicators, virtually no progress is being made on the federal level. Indeed, the current administration is doing its best to prevent and reverse critical measures. When we most need to be working together with nations of the world, our president is taking us out of the Paris agreement. Things are looking grim.
According to nearly 200 top climate scientists from around the world, reporting in the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, we have less than a decade remaining to turn this crisis around and make significant headway in reducing carbon in our atmosphere. We will have passed several tipping points beyond which it will be impossible to stop this catastrophic trajectory. We have got to act — and quickly.
One bright spot of hope at the national level is HR 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, which has been gaining bipartisan support in the House.
Opponents of the bill (many of whom are climate deniers and recipients of huge fossil fuel contributions) are calling it a “carbon tax.” Don’t be fooled. This bill puts an annually increasing price on carbon where it comes out of the ground or across our borders, and returns all of the proceeds back to the American people in monthly dividends. So as the price of carbon-based resources goes up for consumers, the extra expense is offset. Turns out that the less you use (gas, coal-sourced energy, etc.) the more you can come out ahead.
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It reduces emissions 40 percent within 12 years, creates 2.1 million new jobs in clean energy, improves health and puts money in people’s pockets. HR 763 is bipartisan, with co-sponsors on both sides of aisle, and is revenue neutral with fees going to Americans not government. .
Contacting our legislators is one way to make a difference. HR 763 is being called “America’s Climate Solution.” Sure there are many other things we can and must do to turn the tide and reduce carbon in our atmosphere. This one just happens to be the fastest, cheapest, most bipartisan and immediately doable.
Miriam Kashia of North Liberty is a member of Iowa City Climate Advocates and 100Grannies for a Livable Future.