See the video below for a great answer by my Congressman, Don Beyer, on how to promote clean energy and combat global warming via putting a price on carbon pollution. As Beyer correctly notes, already the cost of solar power has been plummeting, with “more workers in the solar energy industry…than there are coal miners” in the U.S. today. (note: wind power costs have been falling as well, although not as steeply as solar) Now, we need to continue and accelerate those trends.
Which is where, as Beyer explains, appropriate pricing of carbon pollution via a revenue-neutral cap-and-dividend program, comes in. Under such an arrangement, clean energy’s cost advantage over dirty energy would get even bigger, faster. As for arguments that putting a price on carbon pollution might be regressive, well…it doesn’t have to be the case at all. Instead, as Rep. Beyer explains, “when you give [the money earned from the carbon cap] back per person, it actually becomes PROGRESSIVE, and people on the lower income level get back more than they put in, and only those with the 10,000-foot square house and the boat and the airplane and the really big SUVs are going to put in more money than they get back.” That’s why, Beyer notes, “virtually every economist…from the left to the right believes the best way to manage greenhouse gases is to let market forces do it.”
In the end, Beyer argues (correctly), “if we appropriately price carbon, we make [renewable energy] much more cost-effective relative to carbon-based fuels…we really expect explosions in those industries once we get the price of carbon where it should be.” Not sure what we’re waiting for on this, particularly given the fact that free-market fans should be all for capturing “negative externalities” and correcting for “market failure,” both of which a carbon pollution fee would do.