The cost of not having a price on carbon

Published 12:14 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2021

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To the Editor:
The top eight countries for U.S. exports (including Canada, China, Mexico, and Germany) all have a price on carbon, as do dozens of other countries that receive a lower portion of U.S. exports. Our exports to these countries will soon be charged a special tariff for the price of carbon since they did not pay for their carbon emissions at home. This means the US companies that are global competitors will soon have a price on carbon for their sales to other countries. The carbon tariffs these companies pay to other countries will be used to help those countries adapt to climate change by investing in clean energy and helping their communities deal with rising oceans, increasing storm intensity, and more extreme floods, droughts, and wildfires.
At home in the U.S., where we don’t have a national price on carbon, some companies may give Americans a lower price on their products since they don’t pay for carbon when they sell products in the U.S. (excepting some regions that have a carbon price). But many other companies will simply make more profit on their sales to us, making America the land of opportunity for bigger company profits while the American citizens get less help adapting to climate change.
If we had a price on carbon that matched the price in other countries, U.S. exports would no longer be charged a tariff for the price of carbon, and the money they pay for the price of carbon could be used to help our country (rather than another country) adapt to climate change. Money collected for the price of carbon could be invested in clean energy, carbon capture, and adaptation to climate change. Adaptation includes ways to reduce damages from extreme weather events such as improved wastewater management to reduce flooding, changes in building codes to withstand more severe storms and floods, and land use plans to help control floods and wildfires. Adaptation also includes changes in population centers as people move to safer regions.
We’re just beginning to see people move to Carter County from regions of this country that are having more severe hurricanes, flooding, and wildfire. Are we prepared to shoulder the costs of rising local taxes to pay for the infrastructure and services these climate refugees will need (roads, policing, fire protection, schools, wastewater management and much more)? We need a price on carbon to provide funds to help us deal with the many issues this county will have to deal with as a result of climate change.

D. McCoy

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