Tough News to Handle on a Monday

Monday mornings are tough enough. But they are even harder to handle when the news includes items like this: “Climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture and fueling the spread of malaria and other diseases, the World Bank said in a report Sunday.”

The report referred to studies showing that climate change could result in global crop yield losses as large as 5 percent by 2030 and 30 percent by 2080. It also referenced studies showing warming temperatures could increase the number of people at risk for malaria by 150 million.

Let’s hope this news sobers up the world leaders who assemble in Paris three weeks from now. There’s a lot more at stake than beach houses, skiing conditions, and the price at the pump.

Not to feed your sense of despair, but here’s something else to think about: Even if President Obama and the United States come home from the City of Lights with laurel wreaths, the centerpiece of our climate solution is fighting gale-force winds. Half the states have gone to federal court to block EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Meanwhile, last week a House Energy subcommittee approved two resolutions that call for preventing implementation of the plan.

It sounds like some creative compromise is in order. Here’s one that we have discussed, face to face, with 175 members of Congress, or their aides: Enact a carbon fee, with half the proceeds going toward a reduction in the corporate tax rate and half to citizens with low or moderate incomes. After our extended round of conversations on the Hill, we have concluded that this approach has real promise.

The key is lining up business support. That’s what Republicans on the Hill told us they need to see, and that’s what our nonprofit is trying out to build via a 501(c)(6) coalition. If you’re a business person, get in touch!

The number of influential voices agreeing that a carbon fee is the best approach to the climate challenge is growing—fast. The list includes ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, World Fund President Jim Yong Kim, and the economist just elected to chair the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Hoesung Lee.

A carbon fee works. British Columbia has had one since 2008. It has reduced per capita fossil fuel consumption by 16 percent, while use in the rest of that country has risen by 3 percent. Meantime, British Columbia’s GDP growth has outperformed Canada’s.

You probably know where your next meal is coming from. Some people don’t. And it sounds like there will be more and more people in that camp unless the world—including the members of Congress—ramps up the fight against climate change.