Elected leaders should take climate stand

  • Wednesday, February 7, 2018 1:30am
  • Opinion

Elected leaders in different levels of government are taking stands in the politics of global warming in a variety of ways.

Last month, the city of Langley became the 21st municipality in the nation to endorse a resolution calling on Congress to address climate change. The resolution urged Congress to “acknowledge the serious threat posed by climate change, and support measures that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a clear, transparent and effective way.”

Last week, a carbon tax plan took an important step forward in the state senate.

One can argue about what effect these measures may have, but it’s important for our leaders to be considering and exploring every conceivable ways to battle climate change, the greatest of all policy challenges for government.

It’s time for the Oak Harbor City Council, the Coupeville Town Council and the Island County Board of Commissioners to join the effort. Perhaps the elected officials can consider endorsing the Citizen’s Climate Lobby carbon fee-and-dividend proposal or find ways to reduce the their government’s carbon footprint. Perhaps they can come up with new and creative efforts.

The importance of carbon reduction and clean energy solutions is a message that people should be hearing from all their leaders, whether they are city council members or state senators.

It’s vital that conservative voices ring loud and clear on this issue. Much of the resistance to doing something meaningful about climate change has come from conservatives who either doubt that climate change is man-made or worry that regulations will affect the economy negatively.

The science is clear that climate change is largely caused by people increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, whether it’s from burning fossil fuels or cutting the trees that absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

Instead of trimming incentives for clean technology, the government should continually be exploring new ways to incentivize and promote innovation in the kinds of technologies that may someday save the planet.

There will be much debate about the carbon tax plan that was passed by the state Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee and the impact it may have on the economy.

Gov. Jay Inslee originally proposed a $20 per ton of emitted carbon tax, with exemptions for certain manufacturers, agricultural industries and airplane jet fuel. The revenues would be used for clean energy infrastructure projects and assistance for low-income families dealing with increased energy costs, as well as individuals displaced from jobs as a result of the tax.

An amended bill decreases the proposed tax rate to $10 per ton starting in July 2019, and increases annually by $2 per ton starting in 2021 until it reaches a cap of $30 per ton. It calls on the state Department of Commerce to make recommendations in 2030 to the Legislature on the bill’s impact on carbon reductions and whether to reduce or raise the tax rate.

The plan may not be perfect — and perhaps goes too far — but it places the economic burden for causing the global environmental crisis in the laps of many of those doing the damage. Accountability in the key.

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