Dear House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee Members,
Welcome new members and thank you all for your efforts and service to our state!
Why should New Hampshire prepare for a national carbon price of $100 per ton CO2 by 2030 and help Congress accelerate legislation of cash-back carbon pricing? Because this is a win-win-win for New Hampshire.
Once-in-a-lifetime changes are underway in the global energy market, and the citizens, businesses, and economy of New Hampshire are depending on your expert guidance to navigate a safe passage through this challenging period.
As stated today in MIT Technology Review:
We can’t wait for free markets to nudge along nonpolluting products. And the lofty mid-century emissions targets that nations have set mean little on their own. We need aggressive government policies and trade pacts to push or pull clean technologies into the marketplace and support the development of the tools we don’t yet have or are far too expensive today.
It is clear to economists and climate scientists that a laissez-faire approach will not get emissions to drop as rapidly as needed. It is also clear that this global pollution problem requires a federal policy that reaches beyond our borders for our economic well-being as well as for our climate safety.
The most powerful policy tool is carbon pricing, which is why 46 countries are already doing it. China will start this year. Most do not have a high-enough price, but last month the Canadian government increased its ambitious carbon price to rise above $100 per ton of CO2 by 2030, proving that cash-back carbon pricing is popular and works. China, Japan, and others have committed to net zero emissions targets just a few decades out. Eight countries have banned sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles starting in 2040 or earlier - the UK in 2030! CA and MA have set similar dates.
These global energy market changes are beyond our state's control, but they will impact us in fundamental ways so we should prepare now. Investments in coal, oil, or gas now are sure to be losing bets, while energy efficiency investments will pay dividends. And rather than remain on the sidelines, we can help Congress choose efficient and fair policies that reduce global climate pollution while protecting families, local businesses, and our economy.
I am the New Hampshire state coordinator for a nonpartisan, grassroots organization called Citizens' Climate Lobby. CCL has 1500 members in New Hampshire, 150,000 in the US, and presence in 40 other countries. Our focus is a bipartisan policy that will efficiently and equitably reduce climate pollution world-wide called Carbon Fee and Dividend. I've attached a one-page 'laser talk' summary (#1). You can read more about it at citizensclimatelobby.org/basics-carbon-fee-dividend/, and see how it will help the US achieve net zero emissions by 2050 here: https://sites.google.com/view/carbon-cashback-coalition/benefits?authuser=0#h.p_uJeLR2lAMFce.
In 2019, a one-page statement supported by nearly every leading US Economist and 3500 others was published in the Wall Street Journal recommending the Carbon Fee and Dividend approach: clcouncil.org/economists-statement/. When voters in 40 New Hampshire towns weighed in on this approach in Town Meetings and local elections in 2020, over 70% of the towns passed their resolution in favor of it, some with 97% in favor (NH Carbon Cash-Back Coalition). Several missed passing it by just a dozen votes or less.
It is likely that Carbon Fee and Dividend will be legislated at the federal level soon, based on President-elect Biden's recent administration choices, the need for bipartisan support for bills to get through Congress, and the success and popularity Carbon Fee and Dividend is having in Canada:
Janet Yellen, Biden's Treasury Secretary nominee, is a strong proponent of cash-back carbon pricing. Yellen is one of the 3500 economists that signed the statement on Carbon Dividends mentioned above: https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-climate-tax/u-s-could-adopt-carbon-tax-under-a-biden-presidency-ex-fed-chair-yellen-idUSL1N2GY2EI
John Kerry, Biden's Special Envoy on Climate Change, acknowledges the need for $100 per ton CO2 emissions by 2030: https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/526654-how-to-better-tackle-climate-change
"The World Bank tells us that the price of a ton of carbon needs to reach at least $100 over the next decade if the international community is to meet the targets of the Paris climate accord."
There is independent support in a recent paper in Nature for the $100 per ton price on CO2 emissions by 2030: https://sites.google.com/view/carbon-cashback-coalition/carbon-cash-back?authuser=0#h.e5523cl7ung9
How can we afford to set such a high carbon price? By giving all the money collected from fossil fuel producers to all families equally. This cash-back solution will protect family budgets during the transition to a clean energy economy. The high price will drop emissions rapidly through efficient market forces, and border carbon adjustments in trade with other countries will help push our high price around the world. The EU has decided to use border adjustments on us by 2023 if we are not pricing carbon ourselves by then: https://citizensclimatelobby.org/europes-carbon-border-tax-puts-pressure-on-u-s-to-enact-carbon-price/
This article suggests the Biden Administration has good reason to support Carbon Fee and Dividend: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/06112020/election-2020-biden-mcconnell-senate-climate-change-policy/. The section at the end titled ‘We’re Literally in This Together’ is particularly interesting.
Carbon Fee and Dividend works and is popular. Canada recently strengthened their Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation, increasing the annual increment from $10 to $15 and the duration from 5 to ten years, resulting in a carbon price of C$170 per ton CO2 from fossil fuels in 2030. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-canada/canada-plans-to-ramp-up-carbon-price-as-part-of-climate-change-fight-ottawa-idUSKBN28L2FH
What can New Hampshire do about this? First, we can prepare. Our State Legislature should require the PUC to include a carbon price in all analyses of future energy projects. We can avoid predictable stranded costs by anticipating a price on carbon of $100 per ton CO2 from fossil fuels by 2030. We can get stakeholders together and consider how best to prosper in a world that has a price on fossil fuels of $100 per ton CO2 emitted by 2030. We can help citizens and businesses become more energy efficient now.
Second, this policy will be great for New Hampshire families and businesses so we should help accelerate Congressional action. New Hampshire spends $3.5 billion a year on fossil fuels - money exported from our local economies to Texas, Saudi Arabia, and other places. That will be kept in local circulation when we produce our own clean energy. There is a bipartisan bill with 87 co-sponsors in Congress, the Energy Innovation Act, that will be re-introduced with bi-partisan co-sponsors in the next session of Congress.
State legislators can endorse this bill online as Prominent Individuals at energyinnovationact.org.
The NH Legislature can also pass a resolution of support for federal legislation of Carbon Fee and Dividend. This will send a strong signal to Congress and the President that we want bipartisan, cost-effective, fair climate policy that has a global reach. Other states and municipalities have done so and are listed at https://energyinnovationact.org/all-supporters/?opentype=local-governments. I have attached a sample resolution.
Thank you again for your service to our state, and Happy New Year!
12 Fordway Extension
This is the fourth in a series to help inform the NH state legislature about the best first step we can take to address the climate risks we face. There are many co-benefits to the carbon cash-back approach. See carboncashback.org/benefits for more on that. Previous "Why Price Carbon" letters are available.