Letter to the Editor

Kruse’s 'Decarbonizing our society'

Friday, October 22, 2021

I read David Kruse’s recent column “Decarbonizing our society” with great interest and encouragement.

In the column, he describes the growing popularity of investors looking for ways to reduce the impacts of climate change, and cites a study estimating over 500 billion was invested last year in “energy transition technologies” in sectors ranging from transportation to agriculture.

The ultimate goal, he points out, is clear: to become more sustainable — but how we get there and who determines how is largely to be determined.

I would like to gently nudge Mr. Comstock and point out there is an accepted path forward. Economists agree if you get the price right, the markets will work it out. To save the planet and the future for our children, we need to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We already see the markets trying to work it out with the examples he gave — the investments and the success of firms like Tesla and Impossible Foods, and how companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are tripping over themselves to flaunt their plans to reduce their carbon footprint.

However, for the market to truly work it out externalities must be addressed and right now carbon pollution is a giant externality putting a huge cost onto society without that cost being "internalized" in the price. Not having a price on carbon is a market failure and it is showing up in the impacts of a warming climate on our health, infrastructure and economy caused by increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather such as floods, droughts, hurricanes and polar vortex spells.

The good news is bipartsian legislation has been introduced into Congress to price carbon. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 2307) will help reduce America’s carbon pollution to net zero by 2050. It puts a fee on carbon pollution, creating a level playing field for clean energy. The money collected from fossil fuel companies goes to Americans in the form of a monthly 'carbon cash back' payment so that everyone can afford the transition. Carbon pricing is also being considered in the federal budget reconciliation bill. The rules of what can be included in a budget reconciliation are strict, and governed by a nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian.

As Kruse states, the real goal is to become sustainable. We must act now to save the planet for our children. Ask your elected representatives to support carbon pricing and learn more by visiting https://energyinnovationact.org.

— Jane Shuttleworth, Okoboji