What Mayors Need to Know About Carbon Pricing

Following COP 21 in Paris, mayors around the globe have been tasked with implementing ambitious climate action plans that will lead their country towards reaching their pledged goals as specified by the Paris agreement. For national, state, regional, and city leaders—all options are on the table, and one that is looking increasingly promising is carbon pricing.

But what is it? Simple put, carbon pricing is the concept of putting an accurate price on the true costs of carbon. Right now, the damages from carbon consumption on health and wellness, infrastructure, and the natural environment are all externalized and paid for by the public, while private industry reaps all of the profits. Carbon pricing simply internalizes such externalities. This solution offers a market-based approach by putting a fee on carbon use that is then returned to residents. The system discourages fossil fuel consumption, but avoids an increase in government and doesn’t impose a financial burden on families.

What makes carbon pricing so promising is that it’s a tested solution. And it works. In a study conducted by Regional Economic Models, Inc.– researchers found that a comprehensive carbon pricing program would slash CO2 emissions by 50%, while creating 2.8 million jobs. This solution also cuts across traditional partisan lines. Republican Members of Congress have called for a carbon tax, and 12 Conservatives have expressed the need to take quick action on climate. There are also economic incentives, and business leaders have continually voiced their support.

Carbon pricing represents a significant action with real support. Businesses and environmentalists, Democrats and Republicans, Elected leaders and citizens all have a recognized shared interest in simply accounting for the true costs of carbon consumption. As always, mayors at the local level must push for these changes and lead all sectors to advance climate solutions. Get the latest research on how to talk to your community about climate, and be sure to join with other climate leaders at Path to Positive Communities.

U.S. must lead climate efforts by pricing carbon

By Mark Reynolds | San Diego Union Tribune | December 19, 2015

After decades of contentious and often acrimonious negotiations, the nations of the world have come together with an agreement that places our civilization on a path toward avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

The Paris accord is one of those rare moments when every nation acknowledges that, for the good of all, we must act as one.

“It was a wonderful surprise that after the incredible disappointment of Copenhagen, these 195 countries could come to an agreement more ambitious than anyone imagined,” said Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president, “This never happens.”

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