A bill is coming? Here’s our take.

A bill is coming? Here’s our take.

During a press conference on June 5, we discussed the differences between Councilmember Mary Cheh’s draft proposal for a carbon pricing bill and our own proposal. To clear up any confusion, here’s some context on what’s happening with the two differing proposals. 

After you read, send a message to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson urging him to introduce the carbon pricing bill as soon as possible.


We appreciate Councilmember Cheh’s leadership towards strong climate policy. Since October, her office has convened a “working group” to fulfill the Chairman’s request for a consensus approach. In May, Councilmember Mary Cheh’s office released a discussion proposal that aims to find a compromise between the aims of advocates and business representatives.

We are excited to see that the proposal prices heating fuels, takes an innovative approach to transportation, and strengthens the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS. It directs revenue to residential rebates, the Green Bank, and energy efficiency.

Councilmember Cheh’s proposal is headed in the right direction. Before passage, however, we believe that it must be strengthened.

In order to meet Mayor Bowser’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement’s emissions reduction targets and to carbon neutrality by 2050, we need a much more robust price on carbon.

The Coalition remains committed to a policy that starts at $20 per ton in 2019 and rises $10 per year to reach $150 per ton in 2032. If that sounds high, consider that even conservative national proposals begin at $40/ton, and experts recommend that prices reach the hundreds – if not thousands of dollars – within a few decades.

Councilmember Cheh’s proposal cuts this price path ambition in half. It begins pricing only heating fuels at $10/ton, increases only $5/year, and caps at only $100 in 2038. As a result, the Coalition proposal cuts 2.2 times more carbon from oil and natural gas use. It would cut climate pollution in DC by at least 23% by 2032. The alternative will reduce less.

There is also a reduction in scope of the carbon price itself. Cheh’s proposal excludes electricity from the price, which by 2013 accounting comprises about 55% of District emissions. Instead, her proposal relies on Chairman Mendelson’s 100% by 2050 RPS bill introduced last month.

The best research on what is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate disruption, for instance the Beyond 2 Degree Scenario from the International Energy Agency, shows that the United States and other developed countries need to move to 100% clean energy across the entire economy (not just electricity) by 2050. This necessitates a move to 100% clean electricity even sooner so that renewable electricity is able to power transportation and heating needs by 2050. If the Council is intent on reducing electricity emissions via a new RPS, the target date must be significantly sooner.

That said, we applaud innovative elements of Councilmember Cheh’s proposal that would lead to additional clean energy development in the region, and push Pepco-Exelon to green its energy mix faster.

We also applaud her approach to transportation, which mirrors our own. The final bill should specify that DC will price gasoline and diesel once one neighboring jurisdiction does the same.

Our Coalition continues to believe that rebating 75% of the money to District residents is the best use of the funds. However, we are open to Cheh’s proposal of appointing a temporary commission to address how to fairly send revenues back to low and middle-income households.

We again wish to thank Councilmember Cheh for her sincere efforts on pricing carbon in the District. It has been a remarkable investment of time and care that reflects how seriously she takes the issue of climate disruption. We look forward to working with the Council to introduce a strengthened bill before the summer recess and passing it this year.

Our greatest tool: Why we need a carbon price to meet the Paris Agreement

Our greatest tool: Why we need a carbon price to meet the Paris Agreement

By Courtney Dyson

In economist’s James K. Boyce’s mind, we are currently facing a tragedy of the commons on the global scale. We have reaped the benefits of fossil fuels over the past centuries without paying for the consequences. The greatest being global warming.

What is Boyce’s solution to this dilemma?

A carbon price. In a recent study called Carbon Pricing: Effectiveness and Equity, Boyce makes the case for a carbon cap-and-dividend. A system which would assign property rights to the “limited capacity of the atmosphere to absorb CO2” and develop a sense of “co-ownership of the gifts of nature”.

The study, published in April by the Political Economy Research Institute at University of Massachusetts Amherst, states numerous times that any carbon pricing mechanisms must be driven by emission targets, the capping of emissions, in order to drive them down, and for any prospect of meeting the goal of the Paris Agreement – keeping global warming below 1.5 – 2 ℃.

However, there are several things to keep in mind in order to ensure that such a policy is both effective and fair.

What should the price be?

Global carbon pricing mechanisms today cover about 20% of fossil fuel emissions. However, they were found to be falling short of their goals due to the prices being too low. Incredibly, after taking into consideration the subsidizing of fossil fuels, the average net carbon price in the world today is minus $8.

This is partly due to that three-fourths of global carbon prices are set below $10 per metric ton of CO2. These prices are well below the recommended level. According to a study (Nordhaus), cited by Boyce, the price required to stay below 2.5 °C warming starts at roughly $230 per metric ton of CO2 in 2020, increasing over time.

This makes the DC price of $20 per metric ton with increases of $10 per ton every year with a cap at $150 in 2032 seem modest. However, our carbon price will be occurring in conjunction with improvements in energy efficiency and an increased renewable energy portfolio. These simultaneous actions assist in bringing down the necessary carbon price.

How do you ensure it is fair?

One concern of increasing pricing to the necessary level to invoke timely change is the impact that will trickle down to ratepayers. This effect was referred to in the study as the “cost pass-through”. Boyce states that this pass-through is “a predictable and desirable feature of carbon pricing” because it signals users to reduce their carbon footprints. The lower your footprint, the less you pay.

Yet, it is important to have complementary mechanisms in place to ensure that ratepayers are not stuck footing the bulk of the bill, instead leaving it to fossil fuel companies – the polluters. Boyce states that this can be achieved by:

substantial share of the carbon rent is rebated to the public as equal per-person dividends, the net impact of the carbon pricing policy turns progressive.

This method and theory will, hopefully soon be put into practice through the Climate and Community Reinvestment Act of D.C. The proposed policy would reinvest a large portion of the revenue raised back to D.C. residents, with portions also allocated into energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and tax cuts for small businesses.

What makes the rebate fair?

It is important that a carbon fee-and-rebate takes into account that every household does not have the same carbon footprint. This is a factor which must be adjusted for when establishing the rebate mechanism. Simply put – those who consume more pay more, and those who consume less pay less. Sound familiar?

One of the best mechanisms we have to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement is carbon pricing. Methods like those studied by Boyce and put into practice by legislation such as the Climate and Community Reinvestment Act of D.C. are tools which are effective in reducing carbon emissions quickly, encouraging innovation and new technologies, and most importantly, done in a manner that is just.

Read the full study below:

Boyce-Ecol-Econ-2018

 

Courtney Dyson is a Communications Fellow at Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Image at top by Flickr user Hsing Wei, Crowded, 2009.

Chairman Mendelson’s Recently-Introduced Renewable Portfolio Expansion Bill May Serve to Distract from the Carbon Pricing Campaign

Chairman Mendelson’s Recently-Introduced Renewable Portfolio Expansion Bill May Serve to Distract from the Carbon Pricing Campaign

RPS bill just a starting point for strong climate action; Bill for a strong and equitable carbon fee policy expected to be introduced on June 5.

WASHINGTON, DC — This week, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced a bill to expand D.C.’s renewable energy requirement to 100% by 2050. The bill expands on an existing Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for 50% of electricity in the District to be sourced by renewable energy by 2032.

In response, the 70-member “Put A Price On It D.C.” coalition delivered a letter expressing disappointment that Chairman Mendelson failed to consult leading environmental advocates in the District. The coalition has been urging the Council to introduce a more ambitious and timely carbon “fee-and-rebate” policy, which would put a fee on fossil fuel energy and re-invest the revenue into the D.C. community with rebates to residents and strategic investments in clean energy solutions.

The letter states in part:

Unfortunately, because [the RPS bill] only looks to action in 2033 and beyond, your proposed RPS bill will not put DC on track to meet our 2032 targets. Due to the time-urgent nature of climate disruption, immediate measures to conserve and clean up our energy use are orders of magnitude more valuable than delayed action. Your bill also does not address climate pollution related to inefficiency, transportation, or other fossil-fuel based sources in DC, including gas and home heating oil. […]

We stand united in our call for a fair, meaningful and steadily rising carbon fee, rebate, and investment solution that will equitably achieve DC’s greenhouse gas emissions goals. As you know, we are ready to negotiate on the specifics of carbon pricing legislation. And as you know from conversations with advocates over the past two weeks, the 100% clean energy goal can readily be achieved in coordination with the carbon pricing approach already under development.

The coalition calls on Chairman Mendelson to enter “a direct conversation” as a next step in melding the RPS bill with the carbon pricing proposal.

Camila Thorndike, Carbon Pricing Director at CCAN Action Fund, further stated in response:

That Chairman Phil Mendelson has proposed an expansion of the renewable energy standard to 100% by 2050 should be applauded, but it should not distract from the urgent need to implement a stronger climate policy right now.

This RPS bill needs to be seen in the context of DC’s existing policy framework and the long-standing priorities of advocates and subject matter experts in the area. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s “Sustainable D.C.” plan includes the urgent goal to reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2032. However, D.C. is not on track to meet its goals by 2032, and this bill does nothing to close the gap — it would not go into effect until 2033. This could create a delay in the city’s efforts to address the urgent challenge of climate change. Further, the renewable portfolio expansion bill does not include anything to protect D.C. residents in the transition to clean energy.

A carbon fee-and-rebate policy provides an equitable solution to the climate crisis, and it would work to drive the decarbonization that Chairperson Mendelson and Councilmember Cheh clearly seek—but only if the DC Council passes it first.

After three years of intense scrutiny, climate and economic experts have determined that a carbon fee-and-rebate policy would be the strongest and most comprehensive approach to addressing climate change in the District in an equitable manner. The renewable portfolio expansion bill, if it is enacted separately from a comprehensive carbon pricing approach, is only a small part of the package and may at this point only serve as a distraction to equitably meeting DC’s targets.

We look forward to working with the D.C. Council on the carbon fee bill with our strong coalition when it is introduced on June 5, as Councilmember Mary Cheh has proposed.

The “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition is comprised of more than 70 climate and justice advocacy organizations, including more than a dozen local businesses.

###

CONTACT:
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819
Camila Thorndike, Carbon Pricing Director, camila@chesapeakeclimate.org, 541-951-2619

We have a (draft) bill.

We have a (draft) bill.

*NOTE: This is a draft bill from the Put a Price On It DC coalition – the final bill released by the DC Council may differ as it is revised and edited.

Big, exciting news from the #PriceItDC coalition!

After years of organizing and deliberating, the coalition has put together a draft of a bill that would place a fee on carbon pollution and rebate the revenue to DC residents. MANY  thanks to the several policy experts, researchers, coalition partners and legislative drafting volunteers who have worked relentlessly to bring the coalition’s vision into reality.

See the bill in full below — click through to see it all!

DC carbon fee_2018_draft

 

For the visually minded among you, check out this cool graphic showing how the policy would work:

 

 

The blossoms have arrived and D.C. council members are late

The blossoms have arrived and D.C. council members are late

Spring has arrived
Cherry blossoms flower as one
D.C. moves forward

Calling all Washingtonians!

Spring has arrived, yet we are still waiting on our carbon price and all the opportunity it will bring towards protecting our health and climate.

In spirit of the cherry blossoms we are asking you to use your creative energies and submit a haiku on why we need a carbon fee-and-rebate policy in D.C.!

We cannot wait any longer: we want to see the bill pass this year!

Please submit your haiku entry by Friday, April 6. The author of the winning haiku will receive a prize from a local DC business. We’ll present the winning haiku during our Climate Day of Action on April 13!

Submit your haiku here! 

How to Solve the District’s Air Quality Problem

How to Solve the District’s Air Quality Problem

By Molly Rauch

D.C. Carbon Fee and Rebate is the answer we’ve been looking for.

Right now, the D.C. City Council is considering introducing a price on carbon that would significantly drive down carbon dioxide emissions in our city — while giving revenue directly back to District residents. As a groundbreaking local response to the threat of climate change, the carbon fee and rebate policy would benefit D.C. families.

Climate change is personal, it is a major threat to my children’s health and future. It will bring more intense and frequent heat waves to our city which already suffers from oppressive and humid summers, and where, as in many cities, heat is disproportionately dangerous for the poorest communities. Additionally, extreme weather events will increase in frequency and we could see more ticks and mosquitoes which carry diseases like Zika and West Nile Virus – even possibly bringing malaria back to the region. Climate change also threatens our air, it is likely to trigger deterioration in air quality over time.

Poor air quality is not something I take lightly. As someone who has been prescribed a rescue inhaler to control my respiratory problems, I know how bad air days can affect my breathing. Sometimes it feels like a sunburn inside my lungs. Air pollution is especially dangerous for children, whose lungs are still developing into adulthood. Breathing polluted air interferes with normal lung development, increases the risk of asthma in children, and triggers asthma attacks. Here in D.C., 12% of all children have asthma, higher than the national average. If you walk into any school nurse’s office in the district you will see evidence of this epidemic – dozens upon dozens of inhalers bundled with their asthma plans.They are stacked, hung, or filed for the children who need them in case of an attack.

D.C. suffers from poor air quality due to ground level ozone, smog. The American Lung Association has given the District an F for persistent smog problems. Smog is formed when chemicals in the atmosphere react with heat and sunlight. The chemicals which undergo this reaction are known as “ozone precursors” and include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), methane, and nitrogen oxides (NOx). In D.C., ozone precursors come from our region’s infamous vehicle traffic, as well as pollution from power plants, factories, and other industrial facilities that is blown in from nearby states.

The thing about smog, is that heat and sunlight speed up the chemical reaction which creates it. As temperatures rise, smog levels also tend to rise. Climate change and the resulting increase in temperature is likely to increase smog levels in cities across the country, including our district.This will increase the asthma burden in our city, directly harming our children and families.

This is why the carbon fee and rebate policy is important for the health of our community. The policy would charge major polluters like PepcoExelon and Washington Gas for their carbon emissions. The overwhelming majority of the revenue would be returned to District residents. ​The carbon fee would apply to natural gas and oil consumed in the city as well as carbon-intensive electricity and emissions linked to transportation — exempting public transportation. Companies that buy and sell fossil fuels in our city would pay a steadily rising fee on each ton of heat-trapping pollution they cause. Returning that fee to residents through a rebate would ensure that ratepayers break even or come out ahead. Low-income families would receive a boosted rebate to help compensate for the damages of pollution they already suffer from and to alleviate poverty.

The carbon fee and rebate would result in improved air quality over time. Greenhouse gas emissions from the use of electricity, natural gas, and home-heating fuel would fall 23% relative to a business-as-usual baseline by 2032. Those co-pollutants released alongside carbon dioxide – smog precursors, NOx, and particle pollution among them – would also decline, immediately improving our local air. Moreover, D.C.’s policy could become the basis for other cities, counties, and states across the country to pass similar policies of their own. Widespread action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will not only improve air quality, but it will also mitigate global warming.

With no voting representation in Congress, D.C. has little obvious influence on the Hill. This doesn’t mean our city can’t lead the rest of the country by implementing climate solutions at the local level which protect our health and alleviate poverty. Our city can show true leadership in the climate movement and serve as an example to cities across the country by implementing a carbon fee and rebate policy. Moms in D.C. and beyond understand this is the right path for our children’s health and future.


Molly Rauch is public health policy director for Moms Clean Air Force. She lives with her family in Washington, DC, where she serves on the District of Columbia’s Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency.

Mayor Bowser’s Budget Engagement Forum #3: Anacostia

Mayor Bowser’s Budget Engagement Forum #3: Anacostia

Saturday, February 24, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Help us tell Mayor Bowser that DC needs a carbon price now!

We are getting ever closer to having our bill introduced in the D.C. Council. So it’s important that we have the Mayor on our side. Every year the Mayor holds Community Budget Forums to allow residents to offer their values, priorities, and ideas on how the next year’s budget should be developed. We need each and every one of you climate champions to show up and represent the “Put A Price On It, D.C.” campaign.

Join us for the opportunity to make history and show DC Mayor that WE MEAN BUSINESS!

Here are the details:

What: Mayor Bowser’s Budget Engagement Forum #3: Anacostia
When: Saturday, February 24, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Where: Kramer Middle School 1700 Q St SE, Washington, District of Columbia 20020
Who: You and all your friends. Invite a few!
How: RSVP for all the details

RSVP today!

The rally was amazing. Time to say thanks

The rally was amazing. Time to say thanks

Message from Camila Thorndike, Carbon Pricing Coordinator at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network


Holy moly. Last week, nearly 150 PEOPLE turned out to the Wilson Building to call for a price on carbon in DC. We stood alongside Councilmembers Robert White (At-Large), David Grosso (At-Large), and Charles Allen (Ward 6), as well as labor, faith, and justice advocates, who all gave compelling calls to pass this policy. Our movement is truly breaking ground.

Now, we need to amp up the pressure.

Will you send a quick message to your Councilmember encouraging them to introduce a carbon fee-and-rebate policy? Tell them we can’t wait — it’s time to introduce the Climate and Community Reinvestment Act. You’ll also have the opportunity to say thanks to the Councilmembers who came out to last week’s rally.

On Wednesday, SEIU Local 32BJ member Judith Howell shared how pollution from idling trucks filled her apartment and sickened her lungs that very morning, calling for the carbon rebate to clean up the air. Reverend Kip Banks from the East Washington Heights Baptist Church made us laugh with tributes to Beyoncé’s lyrics “put a ring on it” and shout to put a price on pollution if we love Creation. Mike Tidwell of CCAN urged you and I to make this mission part of our daily life until we win. And of course, our champion Councilmembers all spoke passionately about why they are fighting for a carbon rebate in the District. Then we stormed the building to inspire the rest of the Council!

Want to relive the excitement?  Check out the coverage from NPR and teleSUR, and browse this great photo album. And I hope you’ll take a second to read the press release of the Councilmembers’ calls for action and share it with anyone skeptical that we can get this done.

Our vote count estimates are getting mighty exciting. But every one of us needs to push hard until all 13 Councilmembers and Mayor are out there celebrating victory on the front steps.

Take one second right now to send your Councilmembers a message of support for the carbon fee-and-rebate solution.

As NPR reported, “D.C. could become one of the first jurisdictions in the country to put a tax on carbon emissions.” This is because of your focused activism. This is direct democracy in action, my friends–take the high-five and pass it on.

It’s time to advance precedent-setting climate protection and economic justice, right here in the District of Columbia Our proposed carbon fee-and-rebate policy would hold polluters accountable for the costs of climate change, level the playing field for clean energy, and lift up every resident of DC (that’s you!) with frequent carbon rebate checks in your bank account.

Send your Councilmembers a message today! Tell them we can’t wait for strong climate action in D.C.

Thanks for rocking it last week and every day,

Camila

Landmark Study Finds Carbon Fee-And-Rebate Policy Would Boost D.C. Businesses, Families, and Economy

Landmark Study Finds Carbon Fee-And-Rebate Policy Would Boost D.C. Businesses, Families, and Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, July 27, a new draft study detailed how a carbon fee-and-rebate policy would benefit the local economy of Washington, DC. According to the study’s findings, the policy — being proposed by the “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition — can effectively reduce carbon emissions in the District while maintaining economic growth and job creation, and putting more money in the pockets of DC residents.

The independent analysis, titled “Assessing Economic Impacts of a Carbon Fee & Dividend for DC,” was carried out by the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) and shared at an event hosted by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI). The draft study found that the policy would result in a steady boost in jobs — particularly in the construction sector — and stable economic growth, while reducing planet-warming carbon emissions 23 percent by 2032 for electricity, natural gas, and home-heating oil consumed in the District. Transportation emissions also fall under this examined policy.

Roger Horowitz, Co-Founder of Pleasant Pops, stated: “With the carbon fee-and-rebate policy, DC has the opportunity to become a national leader on climate action in a way that is equitable and just — and good for our business. Putting a price on global warming pollution and rebating the revenue to families will keep our business going and improve the health of our community.”

“Zenful Bites is proud to be part of the ‘Put a Price on It D.C.’ coalition. This policy will expand our customer base and make our city a healthier, safer place to live. We’re happy to help move this campaign forward for a more sustainable economy,” said Josephine Chu, Co-Founder of Zenful Bites.

The study modeled the indirect and induced changes that occur throughout all sectors of the DC economy as businesses, households and the government respond – not only to the fee itself, but also to the newfound money available from the return of that fee every month. The analysis projects that, by 2032, the policy would generate a rebate of $170 per month for the average family of four and $294 per month for a low-income family of four. This gradually rising rebate would increase residents’ support, thereby increasing the policy’s durability.

“We support this because it would spur companies like ours to dramatically increase their investments in clean energy, while leaving more money in the pockets of DC residents to reinvest in local businesses, restaurants and services,” said Tom Matzzie, Founder and CEO of CleanChoice Energy.

The proposed policy would redirect a portion of the revenue raised as tax relief to small businesses. This will total $30 million per year by 2032, thus enhancing the ability of local businesses to remain competitive in the region and to maintain a permanent and robust presence in the city.

“The numbers clearly show that a carbon fee-and-rebate policy is not only the best option to reduce D.C. carbon emissions, but also a sound mechanism for growing a robust economy powered by clean energy,” said Mishal Thadani, Co-Founder of District Solar. “This policy is simple, fair for every stakeholder, and will ultimately attract many new and innovative companies to the District.”

Fighting for the Future with Moms Clean Air Force

Fighting for the Future with Moms Clean Air Force

Written by Olivia Kuykendall and Maria Zlotescu

What is one thing every child deserves? The chance to grow up in a world free from worries of climate change.

On July 14, Moms Clean Air Force held its annual “Play-In For Climate Action” in Washington D.C. to fight for that chance. Dozens of eager climate activists filled the Upper Senate Park to advocate for a cleaner future. Attendees came from as far Texas to listen to speakers discuss the fate of our planet.

The event featured speakers of all ages to highlight that our climate is an issue that that will affect the present and future generations. Moms Clean Air Force offered plenty of activities to engage families. Children played with parachutes and bubble machines while families attempted yoga and dozens of other activities. The events made the rally not only a political event but a community one bringing together strangers united by a common cause.

Parents at the rally were not all fearful of their children’s future — they were hopeful. Hopeful that their children could one day have healthier water and cleaner air.

The experience made me hopeful, too. Many listened to our Put A Price On It campaign testimonies and were interested in getting involved. Plenty thanked me for my time, expressing the importance of advocacy in the fight for cleaner air. One attendee even expressed the importance of the involvement of young people in the climate action movement.

While young people are important, today’s parents are raising the next generation of voters. Children who see their parents involved in activism are more likely to follow. The children who attended the event today are the environmental leaders of tomorrow.

During the event, I also had the opportunity to sign up for “Dear Tomorrow” — a project where people share letters, photos and videos to their children, family or future self about their promise to take action on climate change. I’m going to write a letter to my little nephews. I want them to be able to visit the Potomac River like I did as a kid.

As we left the event, many rally-goers went to meet with their senators or representatives. I am confident that their meetings went well because I saw their passion and dedication with my own eyes. It gave me energy.

As Moms Clean Air Force fights on the national level, let us remember our local fight. Break out the signs, petitions, and phones. Let’s put a price on carbon pollution in DC. Not just for us. For the kids.

Photos courtesy of Moms Clean Air Force.